Donald Trump backs India, US moves UN to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar
In a significant development, the United States had moved the United Nations to ban Pathankot air base terror attack mastermind and Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar in the second half of last month.
The US, supported by the UK and France, had moved a proposal at the UN’s Sanctions Committee 1267 to proscribe Azhar.
However, China had opposed the move by US.
The Chinese action is said to have come just before the expiry of the 10-day deadline for any proposal to be adopted or blocked or to be put on hold.
UN Sanction Committee‘s listing would have imposed asset freeze and travel ban on Azhar by countries.
Earlier, on January 20, the then US Ambassador to India Richard Verma had said that any “objective reading” of India’s demand to designate Azhar a terrorist by the UN would lead one to support the case.
“We have to understand and work through what these objections are. Any objective reading of the case would lead one to support the designation (of Azhar by the UN Security Council),” Verma had told PTI in a telephonic interview on his last day in office in New Delhi.
He had said that US was disappointed that the issue has not got through the Security Council yet, but refrained from directly speaking on if China was “siding with terrorism” in this case.
China has repeatedly blocked India’s efforts to get the JeM chief banned by the world body.
China’s stand on Azhar:
On January 05, China had refuted Indian allegations that it had double standards on terrorism and had said that it took a “just” stand by blocking New Delhi`s bid to list Azhar as a global terrorist.
“Allegation that China adopts double standards on the UN Security Council 1267 committee listing matter does not stand. China takes action based on solid evidence that is the one standard we use,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang had said in Beijing, as per IANS.
Geng was responding to remarks by Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar on Azhar.
China was the only country among the 15-member Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council that objected to India`s application to list Azhar as a global terrorist.
India’s application to get Azhar banned had lapsed after two technical holds put up by China in the 1267 Committee.
The Chinese opposition is also seen by many as an action taken at the behest of its “all-weather ally” Pakistan.
After the attack on the IAF base in January last year, India in February had written to the UN calling for immediate action to list Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee.
The efforts faced stiff opposition by China, which twice put a “technical hold” before finally blocking the Indian proposal in December.
India on Azhar:
Reacting sharply to Chinese action, India had said, “we note with concern China’s decision to block the proposal to list Masood Azhar”, asserting that its proposal, submitted to the 15-member 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council, had received the strong backing of all other members of the Committee.
External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had also said, “As a consequence of this decision, the UN Security Council has again been prevented from acting against the leader of a listed terrorist organisation. We had expected China would have been more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism and would join India and others in fighting the common challenge of terrorism.”
On December 19, NIA had filed a charge sheet in the Pathankot terror attack, naming Azhar and three others of his organisation as accused.
In a comprehensive chargesheet filed at Panchkula Special Court, NIA had highlighted the role of terror group in spreading mayhem in India and had referred to the nefarious plans of the outfit, sources had said, as per PTI.
The chargesheet which had also named Azhar’s brother Rauf Asghar as accused, had alleged that immediately after the Pathankot incident, he had hosted a video message claiming responsibility for the terror strike and had glorified the role of Azhar.
The Union Home Ministry had given sanction to NIA to file the charge sheet against Azhar, his brother and the two handlers – Qashif Jan and Shaid Latif – of the four terrorists, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The four terrorists, after entering India from Bamiyal area of Gurdaspur, had carried out the strike at the IAF base killing eight people including seven personnel of IAF and NSG.
The chargesheet had named four terrorists involved in the attack.
According to NIA, the terrorists, who were killed after two days of gunfight, were identified as Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum and they were residents of Vehari (Punjab), Gujranwala (Punjab), Sanghar (Sindh) and Sukkur (Sindh) of Pakistan respectively.
Azhar, a resident of Bahawalpur in Pakistan, was one of the three terrorists freed by India in exchange of 166 hostages of Indian Airlines plane IC-814 which was hijacked to Kandahar in December 1999.
Azhar, at that time, belonged to Harkat-ul Mujahideen, and soon after his release, he floated the new outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan which carried out several attacks in India, including on Parliament on December 13, 2001 and Pathankot air base.