Wanted terrorist Masood Azhar was recently reported to be in poor health. The reports came at a time when Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the Jaish-e-Muhammad chief is “really unwell”. According to reports, he was suffering from certain kidney issues and undergoes dialysis regularly at an army hospital Rawalpindi.
Then, reports started doing the rounds that Masood Azhar had died as a consequence of his illness. No confirmation of Masood Azhar’s death had been put forward by anyone. Few days after the reports surfaced, Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan, the culture and information minister of Pakistan’s Punjab, confirmed that he is indeed alive.
As it so happens, wanted terrorists in Pakistan to have a tendency to develop kidney ailments almost miraculously whenever international pressure is mounting on them to crack down on terrorism within its territory.
Even in 2002, in the aftermath of the 9/11 Terror Attack, the then president of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, had said that Osama bin Laden was likely dead by then as a consequence of kidney ailments. “I think now, frankly, he is dead, for the reason he is a patient, a kidney patient,” Musharraf had told CNN.
Of course, 9 years later, Laden was killed by an American special operations unit in a fortified private residential compound which was located less than a mile from the Pakistani Military Academy in Abbottabad and less than 100 kilometres from its capital.
Just like in 2002, when the USA was hot in the heels of Osama to bring him to justice for murdering thousands of Americans, international pressure has been mounting on Pakistan to crack down on terror as India seeks to bring Masood Azhar to justice. Under such circumstances, any unconfirmed reports of high profile terrorists’ death in Pakistan or their supposed sickness must be taken with a pinch of salt.
Pakistan nurtures terrorists in its soil as an instrument of its foreign policy whereby it wages proxy wars against its neighbours. Currently, India is piling on the pressure. Therefore, Pakistan may well be planting false reports of their death or illness to take attention off them for a while until the climate is relatively safer for them to reemerge.