US, UK and France ask UNSC to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar in a fresh proposal

PTI

File photo of Jaish E Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.

File photo of Jaish E Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.

The US, the UK and France have moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Pakistan-based terror group JeM’s chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject him to a global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.

The proposal was moved on Wednesday by the three permanent veto-wielding members of the 15-nation Security Council. The Security Council Sanctions Committee will have 10 working days to consider the fresh proposal submitted by the three members.

It is the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.

An assets freeze under the Sanctions Committee requires that all states freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities.

The travel ban entails preventing the entry into or transit by all states through their territories by designated individuals. Under the arms embargo, all states are required to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related material of all types, spare parts, and technical advice, assistance, or training related to military activities, to designated individuals and entities.

In 2009, India moved a proposal to designate Azhar, whose UN-proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the suicide attack against Indian security forces in Pulwama on February 14 in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed.

In 2016 again, India moved the proposal with the P3 – the United States, the United Kingdom and France in the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee to ban Azhar, also the mastermind of the attack on the air base in Pathankot in January 2016.

In 2017, the P3 nations moved a similar proposal again. However, on all occasions, China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, blocked India’s proposal from being adopted by the Sanctions Committee.

It remains to be seen how China will vote on the proposal this time.

China, a close ally of Pakistan, has consistently blocked moves first by India and later by the US, the UK and France to designate Azhar as a global terrorist by the 1267 Committee by putting technical holds.

France assumes the crucial rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in March.

The proposal was moved just two days before France assumes the crucial rotating presidency of the UN Security Council. Informed sources earlier told PTI that “France is focussed on bringing individual listing requests of JeM terrorists to the 1267 Committee soon”.

The French Presidency of the UNSC comes after the 15-nation UN organ under the presidency of Equatorial Guinea had issued a highly significant press statement strongly condemning the Pulwama terror attack.

China had to sign off on the February 21 UNSC press statement that “condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir, which resulted in over 40 Indian paramilitary forces dead and dozens wounded on February 14, 2019, for which Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility”.

The UNSC press statement was seen not only as a strong condemnation of terror against India but also of international solidarity with New Delhi on its fight against terrorism.

At least 40 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a JeM suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.

India has strongly reiterated its appeal to all members of the international community to support the proposal to list terrorists, including Azhar, as designated terrorists under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council, and to ban terrorist organisations operating from territories controlled by Pakistan.

In the wake of the Pulwama terror attack by the JeM, tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan. India carried out air strikes against the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In the operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for suicide attacks were eliminated. The facility at Balakot was headed by Yousuf Azhar, the brother-in-law of the JeM chief.

Hours after the Indian Air Force carried out the air strikes, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his “urgent appeal to both the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan to exercise maximum restraint to ensure that the situation does not further deteriorate”.

His spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the daily press briefing that the UN Chief is “obviously following this situation very closely”.