New Delhi: In a shot in the arm for the Indian establishment, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar, and two others have been identified by the intelligence agencies as 'handlers' behind Pathankot airbase terror attack.
Other than Azhar and Rauf, the other two handlers are Ashfaq and Kashim, the sources said. Rauf was mastermind of hijack of Air India plane in Kathmandu, in 1999 which was later taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan. The eight-day hijack crisis had ended after release of three hardcore militants including Azhar in exchange for the freedom of passengers and crew members who were held hostage.
The news agency further reported that Pathankot airbase terror plot was hatched in Markaz in Pakistan.
The details of these four persons have been shared with Pakistan "through proper channel" and India has pressed for stern action against them as a condition for any future talks with Pakistan, the sources claimed.
JeM is based mainly in the Pakistan-administered portion of the state of Kashmir.
Seven security personnel were killed in the attack early Saturday morning on the Pathankot Air Force Station by six terrorists who crossed over from Pakistan. All the six terrorists were killed by security forces later.
Meanwhile, India today said that after the terror attack on the IAF base in Pathankot in Punjab, the ball was in Pakistan's court on continuation of the resumed bilateral talks.
"The ball is in Pakistan's court. The immediate issue is Pakistan's response to the Pathankot attack and actionable intelligence provided to it," external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told a press conference here.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today chaired a high-level meeting and discussed the Pathankot terror attack as he directed officials to speed up work on the leads given by India, sources said.
A source privy to the details said that the meeting discussed the Pathankot attack and the information shared so far by India.
"The meeting decided to speed up work on the leads given by India," he said on anonymity.