Pak increases Masood Azhar’s security

Pak increases Masood Azhar’s security

By ABHINANDAN MISHRA | NEW DELHI | 18 February, 2018
A view of madarsa Usman-o-ali.
ISI officials fear a possible assassination attempt against Azhar in the wake of recent terror strikes against the Indian establishment.

Pakistan has increased the security of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar after the terrorist group “successfully” carried out a terror attack in Sunjwan Army installation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources said the inner security cordon of Azhar, who resides in the garrison town of Bahawalpur in Punjab province of Pakistan, in a well-protected madrasa, has been increased and at least six to eight government officials in plain clothes have been added to his personal security, comprising a highly radicalised Jaish cadre who revere Azhar. Although Azhar generally abstains from social gatherings, except for the ones which are religious congregation, he has been specifically asked to stay in and around Bahawalpur.

The well guarded, high walled, madarsa “Usman-o-ali”, is located less than 5km from the XXXI Corps headquarters of the Pakistani army, with close to 70,000 Pakistani soldiers, including an infantry and armored division.

Sources said that the ISI officials who handle Masood Azhar fear a possible assassination attempt against Azhar in the wake of recent terror strikes that have been successfully carried out against Indian establishment, including the Pathankot attack.

Sources said that Azhar has been asked to not address people publicly and to make sure that when he does so, no recording instrument, either video or audio, are allowed near him. During religious preachings, which is played across Bahawalpur and Pakistan, Masood does not speak any longer. The teachings are recited by one of his close associates. This is to make sure that Masood’s voice is not used by anti-Pakistan agencies to target him in the future.

Azhar’s communication and messaging is done by his younger brother Talha Saif who is the one who corresponds with journalists and government officials (ISI). It is because of these extreme security measures that the agencies tracking Azhar have not been able to get hold of his recent picture.

Sources said that unlike Lashkar-e-Taiba chief, Hafiz Saeed, who has political plans, Azhar has been focusing only on anti-India “jehad” and, hence, he is more valuable for the ISI. “His teachings and his speeches are very potent and are easily able to radicalise youths who have no future, no social or family anchor. This is why Jaish is able to get a regular supply of young cadre for its Jehadi missions,” an official said.

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