Pakistan seizing control of ‘JeM HQ’ fabricated reports: Minister

Islamabad: Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday called Indian media reports of the Pakistan government taking administrative control of the headquarters of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) “fabricated”, claiming that the facility was a madrasa where students receive education and the action had nothing to do with the Kashmir suicide bombing.

His comments came after the country’s Interior Ministry on Friday announced that the Punjab province’s government took administrative control of a mosque-and-seminary complex in Bahawalpur area which is believed to be the headquarters of Masood Azhar’s JeM.

The terror group had claimed the February 14 Kashmir suicide bombing that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers, heightening tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi.

“The government of Punjab has taken over the control of a campus comprising Madrassatul Sabir and Jama-e-Masjid Subhanallah in Bahawalpur, reportedly the headquarters of JeM… and appointed an administrator to manage its affairs,” the Interior Ministry had said.

However, in a video message on social media, Chaudhry said that the Punjab province government took administrative control of Madrassatul Sabir and Jamia-e-Masjid Subhanallah in Bahawalpur in line with the decisions taken during the National Security Council (NSC) meeting and as part of the National Action Plan (NAP).

“During yesterday’s NSC meeting, it was decided that NAP will be fully implemented. Some steps were taken in this regard yesterday and today the Punjab government took administrative control of a madrasa in Bahawalpur,” he said.

“This is the madrasa that India was doing propaganda over and alleging that it is the headquarters of JeM. Tomorrow, the Punjab government will give media persons a tour of the madrasa so everyone can see how it is functioning and see the truth for themselves,” he added.

Stating that “around 700 students are studying at the madrasa”, Chaudhry said that “this step (to take administrative control) has nothing to do with the attack in Kashmir”, Geo News reported.

“NAP is our own security document over which all political parties are in consensus and we are implementing it.”

Pakistan on Thursday also banned the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation amid growing international pressure to act on terror groups operating from its soil.

The UN Security Council in a show of unanimity had on Thursday named the JeM in a statement condemning in the “strongest terms” the “heinous and cowardly suicide bombing” carried out by the JeM.

The statement “underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice”.