France to move bid at UN to ban Masood Azhar, also to insist Pak remains on FATF grey list

PTI

File photo of Jaish E Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.

File photo of Jaish E Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.

In a major boost to India’s efforts to get JeM chief Masood Azhar on the list of global terrorists, France will be moving a proposal at the UN in a “couple of days” to ban the head of the UN-proscribed group, French sources said on Tuesday.

Pakistan-based outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibility of the Pulwama terror strike that left 40 CRPF personnel dead.

The proposal, when moved, will be fourth such bid at the UN in the past ten years. In 2009 and 2016, India moved the UN’s Sanctions Committee 1267 to ban Azhar, also the mastermind of the attack on the airbase in Pathankot in January 2016.

India was joined by P3 countries –the US, the UK and France– in the 2016 proposal.

In 2017, these P3 countries moved a similar proposal at the United Nations. However, China has always blocked the proposal from being adopted by the UN.

According to sources, this time around also, France, a permanent member of the UN, is expected to be joined by other countries in the proposal.

“At the UN, France will lead a proposal to put Masood Azhar on the terrorist list… It will happen in a couple of days,” a senior French source told PTI.

The French sources also said that the country will insist on maintaining Pakistan on the “grey list” of countries at the ongoing meet of the Financial Action
Task Force (FATF) in Paris. Pakistan was placed on the FATF grey list in June 2018 and put on notice to be blacklisted by October 2019 if it did not curb money laundering and terror financing.

The French decision was discussed between Philippe Etienne, Diplomatic Advisor to the French President and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval this morning, sources added.

While expressing his sincere condolences, the French leader, who called Doval, also emphasised that the two countries should coordinate their diplomatic efforts.

The proposal will be a boost to New Delhi’s efforts to designate Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN.

After the Pulwama attack, New Delhi reached out to the international community, most of which condemned the terror strike, to highlight the role of Pakistan in using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

China expressed deep “shock” over the Pulwama attack carried out by a Jaish suicide bomber, but did not give an assurance to India that it will back New Delhi’s appeal to list its chief as a global terrorist.

Significantly, a day ahead of his visit to India, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a joint statement with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Pakistan on Monday also called for avoiding “politicisation” of the UN listing regime, a position that may not go well in New Delhi.

(PTI)