‘Our main focus right now is crippling Masood Azhar,’ say Indian agencies.

 

New Delhi: Under instructions from Pakistan army’s intelligence arm, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the operatives of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), responsible for the 14 February terror attack in Pulwama, are maintaining a low profile after Indian Air Force (IAF) air raids destroyed thir operational headquarters situated inside Pakistan, as per intelligence gathered by Indian agencies.

Sources said that the members of the terror group have dispersed to hideouts in different regions as they have been asked not to stay together in one place to avoid the media glare and evade any further airstrikes from India. The outfit’s key command and control centres, main training camps and launch pads were razed to the ground and hundreds of its cadre were killed in the IAF bombings on 26 February early morning.

“The old places (where the Jaish operatives used to assemble or stay) have gone quiet now. We have a fair idea about these places and camps where they were mostly found. The reason behind the ISI’s instruction is that if they are spotted together and identified, then it will trash Pakistan’s claim that it is acting against them,” an Indian intelligence official explained.

“Our main focus right now is crippling Masood Azhar. If he is not tackled, he will continue to recruit more cadre  and send them to India to carry out terror attacks. Now, Bahawalpur (which houses Jaish’s main headquarters) or Balakot are not as important for us as  Azhar is. If he is not controlled, he will set up new camps in other parts of Pakistan,” he added.

Jaish’s online activities on various media platforms, including publishing of its online newspaper, which is regarded by security experts as a very potent tool to attract young recruits, were going on till the time this report went to press.

According to sources, Azhar is constantly moving from one place to another with the help of ISI to avoid getting hit or identified. “Under pressure from various quarters, Pakistan government is likely to act against Jaish by closing down its establishments, freezing accounts and maybe even arresting some low level operatives,” one of the sources said.

“However, all this will remain a hogwash considering the fact that Azhar is personally facing no legal action in that country so far. However, in our country, he was a criminal, serving prison time when he was released in return for hostages. Legally, Pakistan cannot deny handing him over to India. If they do this, then nothing is better, but conventional wisdom suggests that this will not happen,” he added.

The Indian government, sources said, would not back down in future from carrying out similar strikes in case any other terror attack takes place in India with roots traced to Pakistan.  “The red line has been redrawn and that is what we have gained from the recent move. Now training camps cannot work with impunity as Pakistan as well as the heads of all such terror groups realise that it won’t go unanswered if anything happens on Indian soil,” the official added.

 

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