In a development that is likely to create differences in India and Pakistan's Pathankot terror attack investigation and may see more criticism heaped on the Narendra Modi government, Pakistani officials have reportedly said there is still no evidence against Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar. India has alleged Azhar was the mastermind behind the Jan. 2 attack on the Pathankot Air Force base.
India's National Investigation Agency is expected to seek access to the JeM chief and has also asked for voice samples of Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf. Pakistan's Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which is in India to probe the terror attack, has said it has not yet found any evidence against Azhar, the Hindu reports. A Pakistani government official also told the Hindustan Times that India's demand for access to the JeM chief cannot be fulfilled, while terming it "frivolous."
"We posed pin-pointed questions about Masood Azhar; they neither confirmed nor denied that he was in detention. The JIT told us that though they have made a few detentions in the case, so far no direct evidence has surfaced against Masood Azhar," an Indian security official told the Hindu.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing criticism from the Opposition, mainly from the Congress party, on the government's decision to allow a five-member team from Pakistan to visit India to collect evidence on the terror attack, since it also includes a member of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). While the Pakistani team was taken to the Air Force base in Pathankot, they were only given access to "non-sensitive" areas.
Azhar had been released by India in 1999 in exchange for 155 passengers on board a hijacked Air India plane. Azhar was freed along with two terrorists Dec. 31, 1999.
Last month, India had approached the United Nations Security Council asking for Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to be designated a terrorist.