Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has admitted that Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) is a terror organisation and claimed that Pakistani intelligence had used the outfit to carry out suicide attacks in India during his tenure.
In a telephonic interview with Pakistani journalist Nadeem Malik of Hum News on March 5, Musharraf welcomed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s move of taking action against JeM and blamed the terror outfit for carrying out a suicide attack on him at Jhanda Chichi in Rawalpindi in 2003 when he was Pakistan’s president.
“I have always said that JeM is a terror organisation and they tried to assassinate me in a suicide attack at Jhanda Chichi in Rawalpindi in 2003. The suicide bomber pressed a button a few seconds late and I had crossed the bridge by that time. Action should be taken against them (JeM). I am happy that the government is taking a tough stand against them,” said Musharraf, who served as Pakistan’s president from 2001 to 2008.
Facing mounting international pressure, the Pakistan government on Tuesday said that 44 activists of various outfits, including Azhar’s brother Mufti Abdur Rauf and son Hamza Azhar, have been taken into “preventive detention” as part of a crackdown on terror groups.
Asked why he himself had not taken any action against the Masood Azhar-led outfit when he was in power, Musharraf acknowledged that he should have done so while claiming that “those were different times.”
“Our intelligence was involved in a tit-for-tat between India and Pakistan. They were carrying out bomb blasts in Pakistan and we were getting it done there (in India). This was going on and amidst this, no action was taken against JeM. I also did not insist on taking action,” he said.
Musharraf’s statement is contradictory to what the Pakistan Army had said, claiming that JeM “does not exist” in the country.
“Jaish-e-Mohammad does not exist in Pakistan. It has been proscribed by the United Nations and Pakistan,” Major General Asif Ghafoor, the Pakistani Army’s spokesperson, told CNN on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said that the Imran Khan-led government had contacted the Jaish leadership after the Pulwama terror attack and it had denied responsibility. He had also admitted that Azhar was in Pakistan and is “very unwell.”
“He (Azhar) is in Pakistan. According to my information, he is very unwell. He’s unwell to the extent that he cannot leave his house because he is really unwell. So, that’s the information I have”, Qureshi told CNN in an interview.
There has been intense global pressure against Pakistan to stop supporting terrorists and terror outfits after India mounted a diplomatic campaign in this regard.
Tensions have been soaring between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack, the responsibility of which has been taken by JeM. India lost 40 CRPF personnel when a suicide bomber targeted their convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14.
India recently shared a dossier with Pakistan and key foreign powers, specifying how JeM was involved in Pulwama and various other terror attacks in the country.