Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar is in Pakistan and is very unwell, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has confirmed.
“He (Masood 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.
Qureshi added that Pakistan will take action against Azhar if India provides “solid, inalienable evidence” against him.
“If they give us evidence which is acceptable to the courts of Pakistan… after all we will have to justify they will go to the court. If they have solid, inalienable evidence, share it with us so that we can convince the independent judiciary of Pakistan,” he said.
Talking about the decision made by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday where he announced that Islamabad will release Indian Pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan as a peace gesture, Qureshi said, “This was a goodwill gesture and we feel this should be an expression of Pakistan’s willingness to deescalate. We are willing to hand him over as soon as possible.”
Abhinandan, flying a MiG -21 Bison fighter plane, was chasing Pakistani jets which transgressed into Jammu and Kashmir yesterday and crossed over to PoK where his aircraft was shot down. He ejected safely and was taken to the custody by Pakistani Army.
He further thanked US President Donald Trump “for taking an interest to deescalate tensions between the two Asian nations”.
“He (US President Trump) can play a significant role. United States can play a significant role. US and Pakistan have had good relations for decades. We have been close allies and today we have a shared objective to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan. I have had a telephonic conversation with United States Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo in which we discussed this evolving situation. I am happy that they have taken note of this rising tension and they want to play a constructive role to deescalate. This is a very welcomed development,” Qureshi said.
“When Pompeo came to Islamabad when had a very constructive and engaging meeting. He invited me to Washington DC and (there) we had another positive meeting,” he added.
During the interview with CNN, Qureshi stated that he could not envision an all-out war between India and Pakistan.
“I hope not… Pakistan never wants to escalate. Pakistan never wants to be in a hostile position. From day one when this government came to power, (Pakistan) Prime Minister Imran Khan said if you take one step towards peace, we will take two. He wrote to the Indian Prime Minister to let the two Foreign Minister meet on the sidelines in New York so that they can chart a way forward,” he claimed.
“When this Pulwama tragic incident took place, the Prime Minister placed a very balanced and reasonable offer. This is a new government with a new mindset (in Pakistan). We want to live in peace. We have a people-centric agenda. We want to concentrate on fixing the economy. We want to improve governance in Pakistan. We want to eradicate corruption in Pakistan. That’s the mandate given to us by the people of Pakistan. We want to see peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Western front is consuming us. We do not want an Eastern front. We want to put an end to the 17-year-old war that’s going on in Afghanistan,” he added.
Qureshi said that the Pakistani government is “open to any step that leads to de-escalation”.
“If they have good solid evidence, please sit and talk. Please initiate a dialogue and we will show reasonableness,” he said.