Shah Mahmood Qureshi denies JeM claimed responsibility for Pulwama attack, admits ‘people here’ in touch with Masood Azhar

In the ongoing escalation of tension between India and Pakistan, one man who has constantly found himself under the spotlight due to his office, is Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. While on one hand, Qureshi has made repeated calls for dialogue between India and Pakistan, his contradictory and confusing stand on the terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed and the role it has played, has proven beguiling.

Considering that the current round of hostilities between India and Pakistan worsened when Pakistan-based Jaish-Mohammed struck a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, killing at least 42 soldiers on 14 February, the focus of two key media interactions by Qureshi was the terror outfit and its leader.

On 28 February, in an interview with CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour, Qureshi claimed that he knew that Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar was in Pakistan. Then, on 1 March, speaking to BBC‘s Secunder Kermani, Qureshi refused to accept that Jaish ever claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack but ended up admitting that the Jaish leadership had been contacted by “people here”.

The day after Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan announced that captured Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released as a gesture of peace and as the “first step” to open negotiations with India, that Pakistan never wanted to escalate issues. With clear ease, he stressed that it was India who attacked Pakistan, violating the United Nations’ charter and undertaking an act of aggression.

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