• China gets listing proposal revised
• FO says previous bids to list Azhar were aimed at maligning Pakistan and legitimate struggle of Kashmiris
ISLAMABAD: The Sanctions Committee of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday designated Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist after China did not any further object to a fresh move by France, the United Kingdom and the United States to get him listed.
A statement issued by the UN from New York headquarters said: “Mohammad Masood Azhar Alvi was listed on 1 May 2019 pursuant to paragraphs 2 and 4 of resolution 2368 (2017) as being associated with Al-Qaida for terrorist activities”.
The declaration came following a major diplomatic compromise between China and the initiators of the listing proposal under which the movers dropped all references to Kashmiri uprising in the India-held valley, Pulwama incident and Pakistani institutions, especially those linking Kashmiri freedom struggle to terrorism.
After the designation, Azhar will be subject to assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.
India had been seeking JeM leader’s listing as a terrorist since 2008 and more specifically after 2016. Prior to the latest proposal moved on April 29, 2019, there had been four attempts by India all of which had been blocked by China on technical grounds.
It should be recalled that JeM that he leads was proscribed by the UN in 2001 and Azhar was domestically listed under Anti-Terrorism Act by Pakistan in 2005.
Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal, while briefing journalists about the issue, said the “earlier proposals to list Masood Azhar … 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”.
He said the deadlock on Azhar’s designation was overcome after removal of all “political references, including attempts to link it with Pulwama and maligning the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris in IOK for realisation of the right to self-determination”.
While commenting on Indian celebrations on perceived diplomatic success, Dr Faisal said: “The Indian media’s attempts to build a narrative claiming it as a ‘victory’ for India and validation of its stance are, thus, absolutely false and baseless.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is believed, would try to get maximum political advantage out of this development in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party appeared struggling before the Pulwama incident due to domestic issues especially the Rafale corruption scandal, economic factors, and maltreatment of minorities, but the Feb 14 attack on the Indian paramilitary forces seemed to have resuscitated its political fortunes.
New Delhi tried to use the row over listing to drive a wedge between Pakistan and its closest ally China.
Dr Faisal, however, underscored that the matter was resolved through extensive cooperation and coordination with Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, in his comments on the lifting of technical hold and approval of Azhar’s listing by the Sanctions Committee, noted that the negotiations with the movers of the proscription bid were carried out “in a constructive and responsible fashion” after which they “revised and re-submitted the materials for the listing proposal to the 1267 Committee”.
“After careful study of the revised materials and taking into consideration the opinions of relevant parties, China does not have objection to the listing proposal,” he added.
The FO spokesman, meanwhile, vowed to continue supporting the Kashmiri freedom movement by providing diplomatic, political and moral support to the Kashmiris enduring Indian occupation and brutalities of its security forces. He said the highhanded tactics of Indian occupation troops to subdue the freedom movement, including the use of pellet guns and human shields and massacre of Kashmiris, was state-sponsored terrorism.
Reaffirming Pakistan’s counter-terrorism commitment, the spokesman said there was no space for any proscribed organisation or its affiliates to operate from Pakistani territory. He said Pakistan as a “responsible state” would fully adhere to UN Sanctions.
Earlier in March, the government had notified UNSC (Freezing and Seizure) Order, 2019, which provided the legal basis for freezing or seizure of properties owned by individuals and organisations designated as terrorists.
The order had been issued to meet the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements regarding the implementation of designation of persons and entities under UNSC resolutions.
Pakistan, despite making some progress in overcoming the shortcomings in its counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering regimes, continues to remain under the cloud at the illicit financing watchdog.
After failing to adequately convince the FATF at the previous review, Pakistan is now required to complete actions it has to take by the May timeline. The next FATF plenary is due in June.
Dr Faisal, however, denied that Pakistan agreeing to Azhar’s designation was in any manner linked to the FATF. He emphasized that Pakistan had never been formally communicated concerns about its allegedly inadequate implementation of UN sanctions.
New Delhi welcomes listing
Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the designation was a step in the right direction to demonstrate the international community’s resolve to fight against terrorism and its enablers.
“We welcome the decision. 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 JeM,” he said. India would continue with its efforts to bring terrorist organisations and their leaders to justice, the spokesman added.
US expects further actions from Pakistan
While commenting on the development a US State Department spokesperson said: “We expect all countries to uphold these obligations. The United States welcomes the addition of Masood Azhar to the UN 1267 ISIL and al-Qaida Sanctions list.”
The official US statement on the UN proposal indicated that all sides had reached an understanding before it was moved for adoption. “We appreciate Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s stated commitment that Pakistan, for the sake of its own future, will not allow the operation of militant and terrorist groups from its territory,” the US spokesperson said.
“We are encouraged by initial steps taken by the government of Pakistan in this regard.”
The US official also said that Washington was looking forward to “further and sustained actions from Pakistan” as outlined in its National Action Plan, and consistent with its international obligations.
Anwar Iqbal in Washington also contributed to this report