The international community led by the US on Wednesday welcomed the designation of Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN and sought “sustained actions” from Islamabad against terrorism emanating from the country.
The UN sanctions committee on the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda announced in a press release the designation of Azhar, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), over its ties to Al-Qaeda.
The JeM has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama suicide attack that killed 40 CRPF soldiers and led to a spike in military tensions between India and Pakistan.
The US, France along with the UK had moved the proposal to designate Azhar as a “global terrorist” in the UN Security Council’s 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee in February, just days after the deadly Pulwama terror attack.
A veto-wielding permanent member of the UNSC, China was the sole hold-out in the 15-nation body on the bid to blacklist Azhar, blocking attempts by placing a “technical hold” and asking for “more time to examine” the proposal.
The US noted that the JeM was a United Nations-designated terrorist group, and Azhar, as the founder and leader of JeM, clearly met the criteria for designation by the United Nations.
The JeM has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a serious threat to regional stability and peace, a State Department spokesperson said.
“The United States welcomes the addition of Masood Azhar to the UN 1267 ISIL and al-Qaida Sanctions list.
“This listing requires all UN member states to implement an assets freeze, a travel ban, and an arms embargo against Azhar. We expect all countries to uphold these obligations,” the spokesperson said.
While welcoming the publicly stated intentions of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the spokesperson said, “We are encouraged by initial steps taken by the Government of Pakistan…”
“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.
“We look forward to further and sustained actions from Pakistan as outlined in its National Action Plan, and consistent with its international obligations,” the State Department spokesperson emphasised.
France, which also backed the proposal to ban Azhar, welcomed the United Nations’ move, saying it “signals the successful realisation” of its efforts.
“We welcome the designation today, by the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee, of Masood Azhar on the UN’s ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List,” according to a statement issued by the Foreign Affairs of France.
For many years, French diplomacy has been relentlessly pleading for sanctioning Azhar, “head of the terrorist group responsible, notably, for the Pulwama attack”, it said.
France had adopted national sanctions against Azhar on March 15.
The UNSC’s decision “signals the successful realisation of our efforts”, it said.
“France remains mobilised at all levels and all fora to take effective measures against terrorism,” the statement added.
In London, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the UN’s designation of Azhar was a positive development for the South Asian region.
“The listing of Masood Azhar, leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist group, is very welcome and long overdue,” an FCO spokesperson said.
“The UK has consistently called for this action to be taken, and we worked closely with our international partners to ensure the right result. This is a positive development for the security and stability of the South Asia region,” the spokesperson noted.
In Beijing, China, which lifted its technical hold on listing Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN, said it took the decision after it found no objection to the listing proposal by the US, the UK and France following a careful study of the “revised materials”.
“On this listing issue, China has been communicating with relevant parties in a constructive and responsible fashion. Recently, relevant countries revised and re-submitted the materials for the listing proposal to the 1267 Committee,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
“After careful study of the revised materials and taking into consideration the opinions of relevant parties concerned, China does not have objection
to the listing proposal,” he said.