India on Friday came down hard on Pakistan for allowing Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, blamed for the 2001 Parliament attack, to “spew venom” against it, saying it was a matter of concern how a globally banned terrorist could address anti-India rallies.
India’s reaction came a day after Pakistan sought to play down a recent address by Azhar calling for jihad against India as a “one time event”.
“Our view about Masood Azhar is that he is a leader of a terrorist organisation. This is a terrorist organisation which is not only banned in India but banned by the United Nations Security Council, also banned by the US and more importantly banned by Pakistan. And therefore, as far as we are concerned, once is one too many times,” the spokesperson in External Affairs Ministry said.
On January 26, Masood had addressed a rally in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir capital Muzaffarabad where he called for jihad against India and claimed thousands were ready to join the fight. The rally was organised by the JeM, blamed for the attack on India’s parliament.
“We have zero tolerance for terrorist and it is obviously a matter of concern to us that a terrorist who is banned and who has been globally banned and proscribed is able to spew venom on India,” the spokesperson said.
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Azhar and two other terrorists were freed by India in exchange for the passengers of an Indian Airlines flight that was hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December 1999. Azhar formed the Jaish-e-Mohammed soon after his release.
Asked about Azhar’s rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam on Thursday said it was a “one time event” and should not concern New Delhi.