‘JeM a venomous arm of ISI’: Afghan vice presidential candidate Amrullah Saleh

Afghan vice presidential candidate, former intelligence chief and interior minister Amrullah Saleh has called for a regional effort to fight terrorism of the kind represented by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader Masood Azhar, calling it a “venomous arm” of Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“…whether China does or doesn’t see him as a terrorist, he is a terrorist,” Saleh said in an email interview from Kabul, when asked about China putting a technical hold on a resolution designating Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council’s 1267 sanctions committee that focusses on the fight against terrorism.

The Pakistan-based JeM claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide car bombing in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that killed at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers and fanned tensions in the subcontinent. In reprisal for the attack, Indian Air Force jets bombed a JeM camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. Afghanistan’s government, meanwhile, is fighting the Taliban militia which, according to Saleh, has the patronage of Pakistan.

“See, when they attack India or Afghanistan they [ISI] use this tool [terrorism] and then survive behind deniability themselves. Although it is not sticking anymore, it is perceived as a second deterrence in the hands of the Pakistani establishment,” Saleh said.

He quoted former US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen’s description of the Haqqani network as a “virulent arm” of ISI.

He added: “ I believe the whole infrastructure of terrorism which breeds and operates out of Pakistan is a virulent arm of ISI. Either we convince Pakistan to delink itself from them, which is next to impossible, or we work together to cut this venomous arm.”

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