Under Intense Global Scrutiny, Will Pakistan Act Against Masood Azhar?

Parul Chandra New Delhi 2 May 2019

Facing heat from the international community to act against terrorists operating from its soil and within hours of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar’s designation as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council’s 1267 Sanctions Committee, Pakistan had issued a notification to implement the panel’s decision.

Dated May 1, the Pakistan foreign ministry notification brings into effect the three actions a country is expected to take against the person/organisation listed by the Security Council’s Sanctions Committee—a travel ban, assets freeze and an arms embargo.

The notification, coming at double quick speed since the listing was done yesterday, is unlike in the past when Pakistan took years to crack down against terror elements within its territory despite Security Council-mandated sanctions.

What has impelled Islamabad to take such swift action in the case of Masood Azhar is also the fear of being blacklisted by the terror finance watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The last FATF plenary in February this year had decided to continue to keep Pakistan in the Grey List for International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) monitoring. Pakistan is obligated to take action as per FATF procedures when the FATF has its next plenary in June.

Before news of the notification came in, India described the Sanctions Committee’s decision as a “huge diplomatic setback” for Pakistan while reiterating that the Pulwama terror attack played a role in the decision. The JeM is said to be behind the Pulwama strikes in February this year that left 40 personnel of the paramilitary force, the CRPF, dead.

With Pakistan having already referenced the Pulwama strike, saying it was “politically motivated” and that it was omitted from the resolution to list Azhar, New Delhi responded on Thursday by saying “there are elements being introduced to divert attention from Pakistan from this huge diplomatic setback they have suffered”.

The spokesperson of the external affairs ministry further said: “Frankly, they have no choice. They can’t welcome the decision. They can’t criticise the decision. In both cases, there will be criticism at home for them”.

He also reiterated what India said on Wednesday with regard to Pak claims on the mention of Pulwama being dropped from the resolution. “It’s not supposed to be a bio data of the terrorist. It’s not supposed to be a list of all the terror acts committed by an individual”.

Questions have been asked whether the listing will impact the activities of Azhar, given that it’s had little impact, for instance, on the activities of 26/11 terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

India is also hopeful that the danger Pakistan faces of being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will put pressure on Pakistan to crackdown on terrorists.

In this regard, India has cited the remarks made by the FATF wherein it specifically mentioned that Pakistan would have to demonstrate effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions (supported by a comprehensive legal obligation) against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services.

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