Releasing Masood Azhar “doesn’t really matter”: Doval’s 2010 interview comes back to haunt the NSA

“There has been greater political activity, greater tourism. After Masood Azhar’s release, tourism has increased by 200 per cent, civil construction work, democracy…” Ajit Doval had said in 2010


NH Web Desk

At a time when fresh questions have been posed on the sagacity of the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) decision to release Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, an interview given by Ajit Doval in 2010 has been picked up the opposition to take potshots on the Narendra Modi government. The ghastly terrorist attack in Pulwama on February 14, resulting in deaths of at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, was carried out by a suicide bomber from the Pakistan-based terrorist outfit.

“Modi Govt’s NSA, Ajit Doval, spills the beans & indicts BJP Govt in release of terrorist, Masood Azhar. Doval said, ‘Releasing Masood Azhar was a political decision’. Will PM Modi admit to the anti-national act now?” Congress’ Party Communications’ Cell head Randeep Surjewala said on Twitter on Tuesday.

Surjewala was referring to an interview given by Doval to New Delhi-based think tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), published on February 19, 2010.

“Honestly, should I tell you. It really doesn’t matter. Probably, I have seen more terrorists physically or dead, either in confinement or outside than anyone else. Masood Azhar doesn’t know how to fabricate an IED. Neither he is a marksman,” Doval had then said, when interrogated on the aftermath of the decision to release the JeM chief, in lieu of freedom of hijacked passengers on Indian Airlines IC-814 flight.

“What I am saying (is) that individuals, five here and 10 there, don’t matter. A large number of people have been neutralised in Kashmir and the rest of the country, but it doesn’t really matter either way as long as the system continues. It’s a part of degradation…” Doval had said, when asked if releasing Masood Azhar had given any fillip to the terrorist movement.

The former director of VIF and the current NSA had said during the interview that releasing Masood Azhar was largely a political decision.

“From the security point of view, every choice is acceptable whatever is the choice of the government. If on political considerations and larger national interest consideration, that this choice is not available, then obviously…” Doval has been quoted as saying.

“Politician takes a view not only of the present, but also of the future, also of the coming generation, various other things,” the NSA had also said in the interview.

Doval went on to give an upside to the release of Masood Azhar, when it was pointed out to him that suicide attacks in the country had begun after the release of JeM chief.

“There has been greater political activity, greater tourism. After Masood Azhar’s release, tourism has increased by 200 percent, civil construction work, democracy…” he had said.

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