Amid the ongoing tensions between neighbours India and Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the foreign minister of Pakistan, admitted on Thursday, February 28, that terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar was on its soil.
Discussing the two nation's escalating troubles, Qureshi also explained that Pakistan did not want a full-blown war and was ready for talks. He made the revelations during an interview with CNN, in which he also said that Azhar was "really unwell" and could not even "leave his house."
"He [Azhar] is in Pakistan, according to my information," Qureshi said. "He is very unwell, unwell to the extent that he cannot leave his house." He also added that Islamabad was ready to take action against JeM and Azhar if India could provide "solid, inalienable evidence" to prove that the group was carrying out terror activities and was behind the Pulwama attack.
"If they [India] give us evidence which is acceptable to the courts of Pakistan, after all we'll have to justify, they will go to court. If they have solid, inalienable evidence, share it with us so we can convince the independent judiciary of Pakistan," Qureshi told CNN.
The JeM had earlier taken responsibility for the February 14 suicide attack on an army convoy in Pulwama, which resulted in the death of over 40 CRPF personnel and injured several others. After the attack, India had slammed Pakistan and said that it would make all efforts to globally isolate Islamabad and take action against terrorists on its soil. And on February 26, the Indian Air Force flew 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets into Balakot, demolishing several terror camps, including one of the JeM.
Speaking of Pakistan's willingness to de-escalate tensions with India, Qureshi said that the nation does not want to be a breeding ground for terrorists and was open to "any step that leads to de-escalation."
"The policy of this government is that we will not allow our soil to be used by any organisation or individual for terrorism against anyone and that includes India," he added.
Qureshi's interview with CNN came after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured on Wednesday, would be released on March 1. Labelling it as a "goodwill gesture," Qureshi added: "We feel this should be an expression of Pakistan's willingness to deescalate. We are willing to hand him over as soon as possible."