For the first time in last 13 years, Pakistan based terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) did not publish its weekly mouthpiece Al-qalam.
The Peshawar-based publication of the Urdu weekly has never stopped since its first issue in 2006.
JeM has been using this paper to publish its propaganda and collect funds. JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar also writes his column under pen name ‘sadi’ for the mouthpiece.
Earlier India Today TV’s report, titled ‘Balakot Tapes’ revealed that despite a purported crackdown by Pakistani government, JeM was not only publishing its weekly paper but also openly collecting funds across various cities in Pakistan.
As part of the operation, India Today TV’s undercover reporters used the advertisements published in Al-qalam weekly to trap JeM operatives who even gave out bank account details used with JeM to collect funds.
While this could have led to the recent development, there are chances that the Pakistan government may have had a role to play in halting operations of the Jaish mouthpiece.
In a message released by JeM, its chief Maulana Masood Azhar informed his supporters that the week’s paper could not be published but assured that the terror group will continue its efforts to get it back on stands.
“Your favourite newspaper did not come up this week; there are many reasons behind it,” said a message released by JeM.
A soft copy of the latest issue of the Urdu weekly was circulated by JeM linked social media accounts.
Readout of Azhar’s message by his unnamed associate said: “The newspaper had a wide reach, it was translated in several languages, it conveyed the message of sacrifice but it’s already to sacrifice itself”.
Although JeM did not disclose the reason behind the absence of latest issue, the message said that so far ninety six persons associated with the banned group have been arrested by authorities.
Indian intelligence sources said “this could be part of Pakistan’s plan to display state’s purported effort to implement United Nations sanctions.”
Pakistan has been grey listed by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has been asked to illustrate visible efforts to curb terror financing in order to avoid being blacklisted by the international financial watchdog.
However, Indian intelligence sources suspect that “this could be a temporary shutdown in agreement with the state authorities to save the Pakistani government from further embracement and chances are it will resurface with same or another identity once the international pressure is off”.
Earlier this month Pakistan’s foreign office said that it had launched guidelines to implement UN 1267 sanctions. JeM is on the sanction list of UN body since 2001 and was outlawed by Pakistan government in 2002.
The organisation and its affiliates have been working freely under different identities despite the repeated claims of clampdown made by government of Pakistan.
So far JeM’s newspaper has survived several clampdowns in past, its publication was not stopped even when several JeM centres were seized and its chief Maulana Masood Azhar was put under house arrest in 2016 in the aftermath of Pathankot terrorist attack.