India likely to make fresh bid to corner Jaish chief Masood Azhar by tagging him as a global terrorist
Pakistan and India are expected to kick off foreign secretary-level talks in the first or second week of February, Indian media reported on Wednesday.
“The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India are expected to meet next month and the two sides are in touch for finalising the new dates,” India’s NDTV quoted a senior Pakistani official as saying.
“Islamabad and New Delhi are in touch to resume the talks and finalise a date. The final date will be announced after mutual consent whereas the meeting is likely to be held in Islamabad,” he said.
The secretary-level talks due to held on January 15 and 16 were cancelled after attack on Indian Airbase in Pathankot on January 2. The militants carried out an 80-hour long terror strike at the Indian Air Force Base in which at least seven security personnel and four assailants were killed.
In a press conference, India’s Ministry of External Affairs Spokesman Vikas Swarup said that the talks had been postponed with mutual consent and that new schedule would be announced soon.
On the same day, Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said that Pakistan is in contact with India to determine new date of the meeting.
India welcomed Pakistan’s announcement of forming an investigation team over Pathankot attack and that Pakistan’s crackdown against the banned outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad is praiseworthy.
INDIA TO MOVE AGAINST MASOOD AZHAR:
Meanwhile, a Times of India report said that India could make a fresh bid to tag Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar, the alleged mastermind of the Pathankot attack, as a global terrorist.
According to the report, the move will also serve as a test for China, which had blocked an earlier Indian proposal to this effect at the United Nations Security Council in 2010 at the behest of Pakistan.
It said that the Indian government is considering reviving the request as it feels the current situation – where the alleged evidence points to Jaish’s hand in the terror strike, and with Pakistan itself detaining some members of the outfit – will make it difficult for China to oppose India’s demand.
Given the strategic interests that bind China and Pakistan, including their militaries, Beijing will find it difficult to go against Pakistan’s interests, said the report.
Previously, China raised queries about India providing “insufficient information” relating to Azhar and two other top terror operatives, Abdur Rehman Makki and Azam Cheema of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
This time around, India is preparing the ground against Azhar and his senior lieutenant Rauf Azghar through electronic evidence linking the terrorists who attacked the IAF base with their JeM handlers allegedly in Pakistan. The phone numbers and identities have been shared with Pakistan, the report said.
If sanctions are imposed on Azhar and others under the UNSC resolution 1267, all countries will be required to act against them, deny them any sanctuary, and freeze financial assets.