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Masood Azhar is alive, have no information on his death, says Pakistan’s Punjab minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan

Amid speculations about Masood Azhar’s health, a minister in Pakistan’s Punjab province claimed on Monday that the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief is alive.

“Maulana Masood Azhar is alive. We have no information of his death,” Punjab’s Information and Culture Minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan was quoted as saying by ANI.

His comments come a day after social media was abuzz with reports about the JeM chief’s ‘death’, with many quoting liver cancer as the reason for his supposed demise. The Pakistani media, however, had claimed that Azhar is alive, quoting sources close to his family.

JeM had claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on 14 February, which claimed the lives of at least 40 CRPF personnel.

Admitting that Azhar was in Pakistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said on 1 March that the Imran Khan government can act against the JeM only if India presents “solid” and “inalienable” evidence that can stand in a court of law. “He is in Pakistan, according to my information. He is unwell to the extent that he can’t leave his house, because he’s really unwell,” he told CNN.

Meanwhile, PTI quoted Indian officials as saying that Azhar is suspected to be afflicted with renal failure and is under regular dialysis at an army hospital in Rawalpindi.

Following the Pulwama attack, there has been mounting global pressure against Islamabad to stop harbouring terrorism on its soil, with the US telling Pakistan to stop providing support and a “safe haven” to terrorists and terror outfits in the immediate aftermath. India conducted an anti-terror strike on a major JeM camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on 26 February.

“In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis, who were being trained for fidayeen action, were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghouri, the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar,” India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had stated.

Countries like Russia, France, United States and, United Kingdom, amongst others, have extended their support to India in its fight against terrorism after the JeM assault.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Mar 04, 2019 18:19:39 IST

Updated: March 4, 2019 — 3:03 pm