Countering China, U.S. draft resolution at UNSC to blacklist JeM chief Masood Azhar

Indians hold a scratched photo of Jaish-e-Mohammad group chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, as they shout slogans against Pakistan during a protest in Mumbai on February 15, 2019, the day after the Pulwama attack.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The U.S. on Thursday took the lead in bringing sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar at the United Nations by circulating a draft resolution among Security Council members.

The move comes weeks after the 1267 Sanctions Committee failed to designate Azhar as a terrorist, after China placed a hold on a listing request that the U.S., the U.K., and France had brought before the Committee. 

That listing request — the fourth such unsuccessful one in a decade — followed the February 14 suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.

The draft resolution, which The Hindu has seen, borrows wording from UNSC press statements. 

It condemns, “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 14 February 2019, for which a member of JeM has claimed responsibility.”

States’ responsibility 

In a related but separate development, the UNSC passed Resolution 2462 on terrorism financing. 

The resolution stresses “the primary responsibility of Member States in countering terrorist acts and reiterating their obligation to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts as well as its call upon all States to become party to the international counter-terrorism conventions and protocols as soon as possible.”

The draft resolution on Massod Azhar identifies him as the founder of the JeM and seeks to impose sanctions on him. The draft resolution also says Azhar is associated with ISIL or al-Qaeda for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts” and “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related material to” or otherwise supporting the JeM. The Jem itself was listed by the UNSC as a terror group in 2001. 

China, reacting to the draft, accused the U.S. of bypassing the UNSC 1267 Committee.

“The Azhar issue is going mainstream in the Council’s counter-terrorism effort,” a UN diplomat told The Hindu. “The goal [of the draft resolution] is to get global understanding of the menace that Azhar is. No other objective. Each state has to weigh in on that goal,” the diplomat said. 

Reacting to the U.S. move, government sources said, “We are aware that a draft has been initiated for consideration of Council members to list Masood Azhar in the sanctions regime. Our views on Masood Azhar ...are well known. It will not be appropriate for us to comment at this stage on a process which is entirely within the parameters of informal discussion of the Council and its members.”

Resolution 2462 on terrorism financing highlights the obligation states have that prohibit them from making financing available for the benefit of terror organizations “even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.” 


AFP adds:

Released in 1999

The 50-year-old Azhar, who was released by the National Democratic Alliance government in 1999 in exchange of hostages of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814, has been accused of being the mastermind of the 2001 Parliament attack, the suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, the attack on the Pathankot Air Force base and the February 14 attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops and stoked tensions between India and Pakistan.

The draft resolution obtained by AFP condemns the suicide bombing and decides that Azhar will be added to the UN Al-Qaeda and Islamic State sanctions blacklist.

That would subject Azhar to a global travel ban, an assets freeze and an arms embargo.

It remained unclear when a vote would be held on the draft resolution, which could face a veto from China, one of the five permanent council members along with Britain, France, Russia and the United States.

There have been four attempts through a UN sanctions committee to add Azhar to the blacklist. China blocked three previous requests and put a technical hold on the latest one, which could last up to nine months.

The JeM itself has been on the UN terror list since 2001.

Terrorist activities

Azhar is linked to terrorism for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” carried out by the JeM, according to an annex to the draft.

The draft resolution is backed by France and Britain, which joined the U.S. earlier this month in pushing for sanctions against Azhar in the Al-Qaeda and Islamic State committee.

China has been accused by western diplomats of protecting Pakistan's interests in the latest stand-off with India.

But Beijing has defended its decision by arguing that it had adopted a “responsible attitude” in dealing “with this issue with relevant parties via thorough consultation,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

The Chinese mission to the U.N did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Pulwama terror attack prompted tit-for-tat air raids, fueling fears of an all-out conflict between the two nuclear-armed countries.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 2:36:58 AM |

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