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May 2, 2019

UN adds JeM chief Masood Azhar to terror list

Top Story

May 2, 2019

UNITED NATIONS/ISLAMABAD: The United Nations on Wednesday added Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), to its list of global terrorists after China lifted its objections to the move.

The UNSC sanctions committee on the Islamic State and al-Qaeda announced in a press release the designation of Azhar, leader of JeM, over its ties to al-Qaeda. India intensified its push for Azhar’s inclusion in the list following the February 14 attack in Indian occupied Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops and stoked tensions between India and Pakistan.

China had blocked three previous attempts at the sanctions committee to blacklist Azhar and put a technical hold on a fourth request from Britain, France and the United States in March. JeM itself has been on the UN terror list since 2001.

Azhar is linked to terrorism for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” carried out by JeM, according to the sanctions committee.

UN diplomats said the request was again submitted to the committee and that China had not opposed the move to blacklist Azhar. The United States had put forward a draft Security Council resolution to blacklist Azhar, ratcheting up pressure on China to remove its opposition to the sanctions.

Under the decision, Azhar, considered the founder of JeM, will be subjected to an assets freeze, global ban and arms embargo. Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal confirmed in a press conference that Azhar had been placed on the sanctions list by the UNSC Committee 1267 that entails a ban on his foreign travel, assets freeze and arms embargo.

Dr Faisal told reporters that the listing of Azhar had been under consideration in the Sanctions Committee since 2009. He had been proscribed under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act for some time even before his case for listing was taken up by the sanctions committee.

He said Pakistan always advocated the need for respecting technical rules and regulations, and opposed the politicisation of the sanctions committee. He said the earlier proposals to list Azhar failed to generate the requisite consensus in the sanctions committee as the information did not meet its technical criteria.

“Those proposals were aimed at maligning Pakistan and the legitimate struggle of the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir for the realisation of the right to self-determination and Pakistan rejected them,” he added.

Dr Faisal added: “Politically motivated attempts were witnessed and manifested through calculated leaks, particularly in the Indian media about matters under discussion in the committee, which were strictly confidential.”

He said the current listing proposal had been agreed after all political references — including attempts to link it with the Pulwama incident and maligning the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris in held Kashmir for the realisation of the right to self-determination — were removed.

“Pakistan maintains that terrorism is a menace to the world that also includes the Indian state-sponsored terrorism against innocent Kashmiris in Indian occupied Kashmir, including the inhuman use of pellet guns and human shields which found no parallel in the civilised world,” he added. He said the Indian occupation forces continued to massacre Kashmiris and enjoying judicial immunity with impunity through draconian laws. Pakistan, he affirmed, would “continue to provide diplomatic, political and moral support to our Kashmiri brethren”.

He rejected the Indian media’s attempts to build a narrative claiming sanctions as a victory for India and validation of its stance. “Prime Minister Imran Khan has clearly stated that there is no space for any proscribed organisation or its affiliates to operate from the Pakistani territory.”

He was referring to Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s comments on Twitter: “India stands vindicated. Masood Azhar is now a global terrorist. India is in safe hands. This marks a high point for the Prime Minister’s [Narendra Modi] foreign policy.”