The arrest warrant issued against Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), is the first small step against the global terrorist who was claimed by Islamabad to have disappeared. Pakistani diplomats last year told the global anti-terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that it hadn’t been able to take action against Masood Azhar because he was missing. Indian officials had then rebutted Pakistan, pointing that he was still holed up in his bomb-proof house behind the terror group’s Bahawalpur headquarters at Markaz-e-Usman-o-Ali, Railway Link Road, in Pakistan.
The FATF kept Islamabad in its ‘grey list’ that continued to make it difficult for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to get financial aid from international lending agencies such as the IMF. As he faces the most serious challenge from a combined opposition that has been mobilising public opinion against him, Pakistan watchers say that Imran Khan’s best chance to hold power is to get the economy back on rails to ensure that the opposition campaign doesn’t find traction with the people. By most accounts, it isn’t easy.
Indian officials explain Pakistan’s recent steps - a warrant against Azhar who had been shielded for a decade at UN Security Council meetings by Islamabad as well as Beijing and the arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi - to Islamabad’s desperation to get off the ‘grey list’.Officials underline that neither of the two of Pakistan’s most prominent faces of terrorism faces charges for terrorism and killing scores of people but for terror financing. Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was the Lashkar commander who had plotted and supervised the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.