Maulana Masood Azhar Not in House Arrest: FM Pakistan

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
New Delhi: In a complete U-turn, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi denied that Maulana Masood Azhar, one of India’s most wanted terrorist, was under house arrest.

“Maulana Masood Azhar is wanted by the government of Pakistan, but he is not in our custody and he is at large,” the Pak Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was quoted by a TV channel.

The Foreign Minister’s stand also seconded by Pakistani envoy to India Shahid Malik.

“We are looking for him. He is not under house arrest. As far as I know, it (news report of Azhar’s house arrest) is wrong. He is not in Pakistan…We don’t know where he is,” the Pakistani envoy said.

The statements contradicted Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhary Mukhtar Ahmad’s remarks in an interview to a TV channel last week that Azhar was placed under house arrest but would not be handed over to India.

Malik was asked why Pakistan cannot hand over Azhar, who was released from an Indian prison and handed over by India to terrorists in exchange for passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane in 1999.

The Pakistani envoy also said that Dawood Ibrahim, the mob boss wanted by India for the 1993 Mumbai serial bombings, was not in Pakistan as claimed by New Delhi.

“The fact of the matter is that he is not in Pakistan,” the envoy said when asked whether Pakistan will extradite Dawood Ibrahim if India provides evidence of his presence in Pakistan.

Malik also asserted that Pakistan’s spy agency ISI has no links with Laskhar-e-Taiba, the militant group suspected to behind the Nov 26 Mumbai carnage.