Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is in Samarkand to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, did not respond to ANI’s question on Friday related to Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.
Shehbaz Sharif was asked whether he would take action against the JeM chief, a UN-designated global terrorist. As the ANI correspondent posed the question to the Pakistan Prime Minister who was going with his delegation, he chose not to respond and went ahead.
“Sharif Sahab, please take a small question, will you take a question on Masood Azhar, will you take action against him?” ANI correspondent asked.
Sharif’s security personnel also sought to dissuade the journalist from asking the question. “I think it’s enough, please,” one of them was heard saying.
JeM has been responsible for several terror incidents in India and had taken responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.
Pakistan has been on (Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list since 2018. Pakistan’s record on the flow of funds into terrorist activities has been under sustained scrutiny by FATF.
Media reports said that Pakistan had sent a letter to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan days ahead of an inspection by the monitors from FATF seeking the arrest of Masood Azhar.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are engaged in a fresh diplomatic spat over the JeM chief.
On Wednesday, Talibani spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied that Azhar was in Afghanistan, and said he is, in fact, in Pakistan, as per Tolo News.
“The leader of the Jaesh-e-Mohammad group is not here in Afghanistan. This is an organization which could be in Pakistan. Anyway, he is not in Afghanistan and we have not been asked anything like this. We have heard about it in the news. Our reaction is that this is not true,” he said.
The FATF-APG delegation visited Pakistan from August 29 to September 2 to verify the country’s compliance with a 34-point action plan committed with FATF at the highest level.
Uzbekistan is the current chair of SCO 2022 whereas India will be the next chair of the SCO.
This is the first in-person SCO Summit after the Covid pandemic hit the world. The last in-person SCO Heads of State Summit was held in Bishkek in June 2019.
The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).
The Shanghai Five, formed in 1996, became the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001 with the inclusion of Uzbekistan. With India and Pakistan entering the grouping in 2017 and the decision to admit Tehran as a full member in 2021, SCO became one of the largest multilateral organisations, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the global GDP and 40 per cent of the world’s population.