Jaish’s Masood Azhar told by Pak to create unrest in Kashmir ahead of UN meet

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Masood Azhar, 51, according to an input by India’s Intelligence Bureau, had been “secretly” released by the authorities and told to oversee execution of terrorist operations in Kashmir over the next few days and weeks by his group.

Maulana Masood Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief has been told to renew efforts to create unrest in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of high-profile meetings of the UN human rights body this week, and the UN General Assembly later this month-end, according to two senior officials in India’s security establishment.

Masood Azhar, 51, according to an input by India’s Intelligence Bureau, had been “secretly” released by the authorities and told to oversee execution of terrorist operations in Kashmir over the next few days and weeks by his group.

Pakistan had detained several leaders of the Jaish-e-Mohammed and restrained its activities after the group claimed responsibility for the Pulwama car bombing in February that killed 40 CRPF troopers and led to the Balakot air strikes by the Indian Air Force. That effort was also driven by Islamabad’s anxiety to signal to the international community that it was serious about cracking down on terror ahead of a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June.

For now, the Indian security establishment believes that Pakistan’s top priority is to create disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir and bring about a situation that people hit the streets against last month’s move to scrap special status for the state and split it into two union territories.

Pakistan’s hard push to terror elements is timed to coincide with the UN Human Rights Council meetings that begin in Geneva from September 9. Pakistani foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi is personally leading the charge against India in Geneva. Islamabad is expected to either seek an urgent debate or a resolution at the council meeting citing alleged human rights violations in Kashmir.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will lead another offensive later this month when he speaks at the UN general assembly. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is expected to be a key focus of his speech.

In the weeks after India effectively abrogated Article 370, Imran Khan had used every opportunity at hand to hurl barbs and threats at New Delhi. He has continued to step up the rhetoric, threatening the “fullest possible response” on Friday to India’s moves in Jammu and Kashmir and stressed that the global community would be responsible for any “catastrophic” aftermath.