In a major step to address Indian concerns, Pakistan has announced the arrest of several Jaish-e-Mohammad members believed responsible for the January 2 attack on the Pathankot IAF base.
Pakistan-based Geo TV reported that JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rehman Rauf have also been detained.
Officials said Azhar, the dreaded terrorist and two other terrorists who were released from an Indian prison in 1999 in exchange for release of 155 passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane, has been taken into protective custody after raids on several JeM offices.
An official Pakistani statement said Jaish offices were being traced and sealed. “Further investigations are underway,” a statement issued after a high level meeting taken by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif which was also attended by the country’s Army chief Raheel Sharif.
In order to conduct further investigations into the incident, Pakistan was also thinking of sending a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to Pathankot in consultation with the Government of India.
Text of Pakistan press statement on arrest of JeM members:
A high-level meeting chaired by the Prime Minister reviewed the prevailing security situation. The meeting was attended by Ministers of Interior and Finance, Chief Minister, Punjab, Advisor on Foreign Affairs, COAS, DG ISI, Corps Commander Lahore, Director-General Intelligence Bureau and other senior civil, military and police officials.
The meeting noted with satisfaction that as part of Pakistan’s commitment to eliminate terrorism from our soil and the expressed national resolve not to allow our territory to be used for acts of terrorism anywhere, considerable progress has been made in the investigations being carried out against terrorist elements reportedly linked to the Pathankot incident. Based on the initial investigations in Pakistan, and the information provided, several individuals belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad, have been apprehended. The offices of the organisation are also being traced and sealed. Further investigations are underway. In the spirit of the cooperative approach, it was also decided that in order to carry the process forward, additional information would be required, for which the Government of Pakistan is considering to send a Special Investigation Team to Pathankot, in consultation with the Government of India.
The meeting reiterated that in line with our decision to counter and completely eliminate terrorism, Pakistan would remain engaged with India on this issue.