Masood Azhar banned from Azad Kashmir
MUZAFFARABAD: Authorities have banned an Islamic militant leader from entering Azad Kashmir, officials said on Wednesday.
The militant, Maulana Masood Azhar, had been under house arrest for almost a year until he was released in December. He planned to address a rally in Azad Kashmir on Thursday.
Officials cited security reasons for preventing Azhar from addressing a religious gathering in Kotli district.
“Keeping in view the government of Pakistan’s policy, it is suggested that Maulana Masood Azhar should not be allowed to enter Azad Jammu and Kashmir so as to avoid a law and order situation,” a Pakistani official said, using the Pakistani name for its part of disputed Kashmir.
The move to stop the militant travelling to Kashmir came days after the beginning of a thaw in relations between India and Pakistan.
In a surprise move last month Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Indian Held Kashmir and called for talks with Pakistan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali then telephoned Vajpayee and later the two sides announced the restoration of diplomatic relations and transport links. —Reuters