Terror tag for Masood Azhar

As Masood Azhar Declared Global Terrorist, Pak Seeks Cold Comfort In Semantics

Parul Chandra New Delhi 1 May 2019

In a huge diplomatic win for India, the UN Security Council has designated Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, the man said to be responsible for the recent Pulwama terror strike, as a global terrorist after China lifted its technical hold on his listing by the 1267 Sanctions Committee.

Azhar’s listing comes 18 years after the JeM, an outfit he founded, was listed by the Security Council for its association with the Al Qaeda, its leader Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

However, within hours of the Masood Azhar listing, New Delhi and Islamabad were engaged in a verbal spat over the exclusion of the Pulwama strikes from the text of the listing proposal.

Welcoming the UNSC move, India said the decision to designate Azhar as a “UN proscribed terrorist is a step in the right direction to demonstrate the international community’s resolve to fight against terrorism and its enablers.” The Indian ministry of external affairs official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also said: “This is in accordance with India’s position and in line with the information that India has shared with the members of the Sanctions Committee regarding terrorist activities of Masood Azhar and the Jaish-e-Mohammad. India will continue with its efforts through international forums to ensure that terrorist organisations and their leaders who cause harm to our citizens are brought to justice”.

Pakistan was swift to respond to the Security Council’s ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee granting approval to the addition of Mohammed Masood Azhar Alvi (the full name) to the sanctions list. “Pakistan is a responsible state and will take appropriate action,” said its foreign ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal.

However, what irked New Delhi were Islamabad’s claims that the listing proposal was approved by the Sanctions Committee “once politically motivated attempts to link it with the Pulwama incident and the legitimate Kashmiri struggle for the realisation of the right to self-determination were removed”.

Sources in New Delhi retorted by saying that “all acts of terrorism, including Pulwama, were relevant to the lifting”. Noting that the Pulwama strike “happened to be the last act of terror” by the Jaish chief, sources said “the designation was not based on a specific incident but on the basis of evidence shared with members of the 1267 Sanctions Committee linking Masood Azhar to terrorism”.

They added: “It is not supposed to be a bio-data of a terrorist that all acts of terror committed by him would be listed in the notification”.

The terror activities for which Azhar now finds himself in the proscribed list is are–”participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of”, “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related material to”, “recruiting for”, “otherwise supporting acts or activities of”, and “other acts or activities indicating association with” Jaish-i-Mohammed (QDe.019).”

The Pak ministry spokesperson detailed what the listing by the Sanctions Committee entails—a travel ban, an assets freeze and arms embargo. However, whether the listing will have any impact in real terms for the man held responsible for numerous terror attacks, among them the 2001 Parliament attack as well as the one on the Pathankot air base and the army camp in Uri, remains to be seen.

If the Indian statement seemed muted particularly after a long battle over a decade to see Azhar proscribed, it was possibly done so as to not embarrass China for its climbdown. For Beijing had, over the years, stood steadfastly behind Islamabad to prevent Azhar’s listing as a global terrorist.

India was understandably pleased with the designation, having said to have worked behind the scenes to wear down Chinese resistance. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin referred to the diplomatic ropes India has been working to have Azhar proscribed. Noting that India has “been at it for several years,” he said, “more recently, we have been persistent, diligent and in a subterranean manner making efforts towards this goal”.

There was also acknowledgement of the support extended by three permanent members of the Security Council, the U.S., UK and France, to the resolution seeking to list Azhar as a global terrorist.

France welcomed the listing and said it had been “relentlessly pleading for sanctioning Mr Azhar, head of the terrorist group responsible, notably, for the Pulwama attack last February.”

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