As soon as the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in the third week of August, the leader of Pakistan’s Jaish-e-Mohammed, Maulana Masood Azhar, went to Kandahar to ask for cooperation in fomenting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, India Today has reported, quoting sources.

Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the political commission, was among those Masood Azhar, the mastermind behind the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, met. Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM) commander Masood Azhar enlisted the Taliban’s assistance in his Kashmir Valley operations, the report said. LIVE Updates: Death Toll in Kabul Airport Attack Rises to 170, Says Afghan Official

A few days prior to the Taliban’s “win" in Kabul, Masood Azhar had praised the terror group for bringing down the “US-backed Afghan government." The JEM’s leader commended “mujahideen accomplishments" in Afghanistan in an article titled “Manzil Ki Taraf" (toward the destination) published on August 16.

JEM operatives in Pakistan’s Bahawalpur markaz are also exchanging congratulations on the Taliban’s triumph in a message disseminated among the group’s members. The Taliban and the Jaish-e-Mohammed are considered ideological comrades in interpreting sharia, the Islamic law, following the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam. Since Masood Azhar’s release in 1999, Jaish-e-Mohammed has been active in carrying out terrorist actions in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to the Sunni Islam’s Deobandi school of thought, both the Taliban and Jaish-e-Mohammed are considered ideological comrades. Since Masood Azhar’s release in 1999, Jaish-e-Mohammed has been active in carrying out terrorist actions in Jammu and Kashmir.

As a result of the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC 814 by Pakistani terrorists, Masood Azhar was released from an Indian prison .The flight had been hijacked on its way from Kathmandu to Lucknow.

The flight was then taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan, where the Taliban ruled at the time. After the flight landed in Kandahar, Taliban created a circle around the airbus, ensuring that they maintained control of the situation until the Indian government released the terrorists, including Masood Azhar.

As a result of their historical relations with Jaish-e-Mohammed, it has been speculated that the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan may lead to an increase in terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir. However, in a statement, the Taliban has said the Afghan territory will not be utilised for terrorism against any country.

Kashmir ‘Bilateral, Internal’ Issue: Taliban

Days after taking over Kabul in Afghanistan, the Taliban, in an apparent clarification of their stance on Kashmir, called it a “bilateral and an internal matter", news agency ANI reported, quoting people familiar with the development. The Taliban is unlikely to focus on Kashmir, ANI reported, attributing it to the official.

The Taliban, in an exclusive interview to CNN-News18, had earlier said the group have wanted for the last twenty years for India to have a relation with the people of Afghanistan. However, it said, India should not side with the ‘puppet government’ and back the ‘liberation of the country’. “They (India) should also acknowledge the intention of the people of Afghanistan for the liberation of the country. It was our point and our position and we have always said that no one should not side with that puppet government. They should support the people of Afghanistan," the militant group’s spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said.

Pakistan Leader: ‘Taliban Will Help Us in Kashmir’

According to ANI, a leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government Neelam Irshad Sheikh said during a TV news debate that the “the Taliban have announced that they will join hands with Pakistan in Kashmir, they are saying that they are with us and they will help us in Kashmir."

Alarmed by the statement of the PTI leader, the news anchor said, “Madam, do you realise what you have said. You have no idea what you have said. For God’s sake ma’am, this show will air around the world. This will be viewed in India." However, unaffected and unconcerned, Irshad Sheikh said that the Taliban would help Pakistan because they had “been mistreated," ANI reported.

The United States in June had said Masood Azhar and 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Sajid Mir were “widely believed” to be living “under the protection of the state” in Pakistan, which, additionally, had still not taken “decisive actions” against terrorists based on its soil.