New Delhi, May 2: India on Thursday said that the militant attack in Pulwama played a key role in listing of Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar’s listing as a global terrorist by the United Nations.
While Masood Azhar’s listing as a global terrorist is a massive diplomatic success for India, the grounds on which he was declared a global terrorist did not include the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 Indian soldiers died. JeM had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Giving an explanation, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, at a press conference said that India had given all the evidence for the sanctions committee’s consideration which became the basis for the final voting and added that Pulwama played a role in Azhar’s listing.
While the Congress had welcomed Azhar’s designation as a terrorist, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had expressed disappointment that the listing “does not mention Pulwama and Jammu and Kashmir” while recounting Azhar’s role in terror activities.
According to sources, since the crucial UNSC press statement issued by all members including China had mentioned the Pulwama attack and noted JeM taking responsibility, the designating states – the US, the UK, France as well as India did not see it necessary to “re-litigate” the Pulwama attack in Azhar’s listing.
It was not just one terror attack that led to the designation of Azhar and that China had been blocking attempts to ban Azhar much before the Pulwama attack, the sources had said.
On whether there was any deal with China on the issue during the visit by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale to Beijing recently, the MEA dismissed any quid pro quo with Beijing.
“We do not negotiate with any country on terrorism and on matters related to the security of the country. China has already given its reason why the hold has been lifted,” Kumar said.
Taking a swipe at Pakistan over its stand on Azhar, Kumar said that Islamabad’s only option is to “pick up some holes”, indicating that it should take strong steps to combat terrorism.
“Elements are being introduced to divert attention from Pakistan on this diplomatic setback that they have suffered. They cannot welcome the decision, they cannot criticize the decision. The only option left for them is to pick up some holes,” he said.
Hours after the UN designated Azhar as a global terrorist, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday claimed that the JeM chief was listed under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act “much before” the case of his listing was taken up before the world body.
“You are aware that the listing of Masood Azhar had been under consideration in the Sanctions Committee for several years, (since 2009). He has been proscribed under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act for some time, even before his case for listing was taken up by the Sanctions Committee,” read a statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
The statement further argued that the earlier proposals to list the JeM chief “failed to generate the requisite consensus in the sanction committee” as the information regarding the terrorist activities of Azhar and his outfits did not meet the technical rules and regulations.
Meanwhile, Azhar has been shifted to a safe house in Islamabad from his residence in Bahawalpur by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), sources have said.
The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, UK and the US on February 27.
The proposal was the fourth attempt at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist which finally came through after China lifted its hold on the proposal by the US, UK and France to blacklist him.
A UNSC designation will subject Azhar to an assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo. 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.
A dossier prepared by the government on the global terrorist which has also been shared with the international community, says that the Azhar was “put under house arrest at Markaz Subhan Allah in Bahawalpur, post ‘Balakot Attack’ (26.02.2019) and has been recently shifted to a Safe House in Islamabad.”