masood azhar
In picture: Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar.Reuters

Over a week after the February 14 Pulwama attack that killed about 45 CRPF personnel and injured several others, Pakistan has said that it has taken control of the headquarters of terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Bahawalpur. The announcement was made by the country's interior ministry on Friday, February 22.

"The Punjab government has taken over the control of the JeM headquarters in Bahawalpur," Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told the Press Trust of India.

Pakistan's interior ministry also tweeted the move on Friday and said that the Government of Punjab province had taken control after a meeting of the National Security Committee. During this meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the interior ministry and security institutions to take action against terror outfits.

"The government has taken over the control of a campus comprising Madressatul Sabir and Jama-e-Masjid Subhanallah in Bahawalpur... and appointed an administrator to manage its affairs," the tweet said.

While the ministry earlier clearly said that Pakistan had taken control of the JeM headquarters, a subsequent statement said that there was no link between the Bahawalpur complex and the JeM training centre. It said that the complex was "purely a madressah and Jamia Masjid (central mosque) where scores of orphans and students from underprivileged families are receiving religious and worldly education."

The mosque-and-seminary complex, said to be the headquarters of JeM, has over 650 students and a faculty of 70 members. The Punjab police is now said to be providing security to the complex.

Pakistan on Thursday, February 21, also banned Hafiz Saeed-led Jamat-ud-Dawa and its charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation. Saeed is the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the two outfits were earlier on the watchlist of the Interior Ministry.

Pakistan seems to be trying to prove that it was serious about its counter-terrorism measures, but not many are too impressed with these steps. Many believe that the decision is not genuine, with reports even saying that JeM chief Masood Azhar left Bahawalpur a few days ago and remains in the "safekeeping" of the Pakistan Army, reported the Times of India. In addition, many have pointed out that Islamabad also carried out several raids on the camps of Lashkar-e-Taiba after the Mumbai attacks, but nothing came out of it.

Pakistan has been on the international radar since the attack and many nations have urged it to stop breeding terrorists on its soil. On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council, comprising 15 nations, condemned in the "strongest terms" the "heinous and cowardly" attack in Pulwama and also spoke about how organisers and financiers of such "reprehensible acts" must be held accountable.

The UNSC also named Azhar and the JeM in the statement and said that it will fully support India against its fight against terrorism.

JeM and Azhar being named in the statement surprised many, considering China too is a part of the UNSC, and it is now being said that Beijing had indeed objected to a few parts in the statement. It reportedly did not want the JeM to be referred to as a "Pak-based" outfit and also wanted Jammu and Kashmir to be called "India administered Kashmir," reported the Economic Times. A consensus was reached when the UNSC agreed to its first demand and said that it would not call J&K "India administered Kashmir."