Two days after China put a technical hold on the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar at the United Nations Security Council, France took the lead in imposing national sanctions on the terrorist responsible for attacks in Pulwama, Pathankot and Parliament House. Paris also said it will ask other European countries to include Azhar’s name in the European Union’s list of terrorists.
“France has decided to sanction Masood Azhar at the national level by freezing his assets in application of the Monetary and Financial Code. A joint decree of the Ministries of the Interior, and Economy and Finance was published today in the Official Gazette,” a statement issued by the three French ministries said.
France had taken the lead, along with the US and UK, to put “maximum pressure” on China to not object to the listing proposal moved by the P-3 countries. But Beijing put a hold on the proposal, and bought time for six months, extendable by another three months.
“We will raise this issue with our European partners with a view to including Masood Azhar on the European Union list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts, based on this decree,” the statement said.
Leading the effort, France asserted that it has always been by India’s side in the fight against terrorism. France along with the US and the UK had moved a proposal in the UN Security Council to designate the JeM chief as a “global terrorist”.
“A deadly attack took place in Pulwama on February 14, 2019, claiming over 40 victims from the Indian police forces. The Jaish-e-Mohammed, which the United Nations has deemed to be a terrorist organisation since 2001, has claimed responsibility for this attack,” the French government’s statement said. “France has always been and always will be by India’s side in the fight against terrorism,” it said.
The French had played a key role in getting the condemnation statement by the UNSC, which had named JeM for the attack in J&K.
Sources said the idea is to gather as much global support and build international opinion in favour of listing by putting Azhar on the national list of terrorists. “If such actions can be taken by the major countries of the world, which supported the proposal to list Azhar, that would give a strong message and put pressure on Beijing,” sources told The Indian Express.
Sources said Delhi is talking to major partners like the UK and other strategic partners to put Azhar on the national lists of terrorists and JeM on the terrorist groups list, and build international pressure. The proposal had 13 co-sponsors at the UNSC Resolution 1267 sanctions committee.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Friday said the leaders who term China’s blocking of banning JeM chief Masood Azhar at the UN a “diplomatic failure” must see that India was alone when the move was first made in 2009 under UPA rule, while it has worldwide support in 2019.
Taking to Twitter, Swaraj said: “The proposal has been mooted four times. In 2009, India under the UPA government was the lone proposer. In 2016, India’s proposal was co-sponsored by US, France and UK. In 2017, US, UK and France moved the proposal.”
“In 2019, the proposal was moved by US, France and UK and supported by 14 of the 15 UN Security Council members and also co-sponsored by Australia, Bangladesh, Italy and Japan — non-members of the Security Council,” she said in a series of tweets.
She asserted that India had secured “unprecedented support” from the international community for listing the JeM chief under the UN Sanctions Committee. “I have shared these facts with you so that leaders who describe this as our diplomatic failure may see for themselves that in 2009, India was alone. In 2019, India has worldwide support,” she said.