Pakistan on Thursday said it would not comment on reports that Chilean police had arrested the brother of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar who was accused of coordinating the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane till details of the detained individual had been ascertained. Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua acknowledged during a weekly news briefing that a “few Pakistanis” had been arrested in Chile due to “visa issues”.
However, she said authorities would not comment on reports that Azhar’s brother Abdul Rauf was among them till the identity of the detained individuals is verified. “If there is an individual amongst them, of whatever name, I don’t think we need to comment on it till we know the details of the individual,” Janjua said in response to a question. Besides, Pakistan “need not discuss these issues in the public domain” because there was an ongoing mechanism involving the Interior and Home Secretaries of the two countries to take up issues related to counter-terrorism, she said.
A Pakistani media report Wednesday had said that authorities had refuted the Chilean police’s claim of having arrested the brother of Azhar, accused of coordinating the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines airplane from the Nepalese capital Kathmandu to Kandahar in Afghanistan. The News daily quoted unnamed officials of Pakistani security agencies as saying that the Chilean police had arrested someone else because Mufti Abdul Rauf, the younger brother of Azhar, is present in the garrison town of Rawalpindi. The officials further said that the name of the man arrested in Chile is Mohammad Abdul Rauf and he was a Pakistani charged with possessing a fake visa. They told the newspaper that the detained man has nothing to do with Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) or any other Pakistani militant group.
Chilean authorities had informed the Indian probe agency CBI through Interpol on April 11 that they had arrested a Pakistani national, Abdul Rauf, who matched the description of the person charge-sheeted by the CBI in the hijacking of flight IC-814. Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice for JeM leader Mufti Abdul Rauf in 2000 and a cash award of Rs 1 million was announced for information leading to his arrest.