France Backs India; Freezes JeM Chief Masood Azhar’s Assets
March 15th, 2019 / 2:18 PM
Image Credit: NDTV
Days after France pledged to designate Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the United Nations, the UNSC permanent member has frozen his assets in France.
“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,” read the statement from the Government of France. Apart from the financial hurdles, Azhar and his followers will also be barred from travelling. France has supported India in its fight against global terrorism and the statement reiterates France’s stand on the issue as well.
France sanctions Masood Azhar:
Joint Press Release from The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, The Ministry of Economy and Finance and The Ministry of the Interior.
Read the complete joint press release below ⬇️https://t.co/1izwMeCJlK
— Alexandre Ziegler (@FranceinIndia) March 15, 2019
“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,” read the statement. This move is expected to put more pressure on Pakistan to ban terror outfits which are operating on its soil. This comes a day after China blocked India’s bid to designate Azhar as a global terrorist at UN.
China blocks resolution on Azhar
For the fourth time, India’s bid to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” by the United Nations Security Council was once again blocked by China. On Wednesday, March 13, China, a veto-wielding member of the UNSC put a “technical hold” on the proposition which was forwarded by the UK, US, and France — all permanent member of the UNSC— in the wake of the Pulwama attack in February.
China has thrice earlier— in 2011, 2016 and 2017— placed such a “technical hold” on the proposition before finally terminating the proposal. China will get a maximum of nine months time before it can use its veto power to formally block or terminate the proposal.
China’s decision is all said to further worsen ties between India and China as it comes within a year of the Xi-Modi summit in Wuhan which was thought to have taken bilateral ties between both the countries to the next level. Both nations repeatedly cited the summit to claim that the relationship between India-China is in its best phase in history.
India disappointed by the move
Speaking on the Chinese attempts to block India’s bid at UNSC, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that it is disappointed by the outcome. “This (technical hold) has prevented action by the international community to designate the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a proscribed and active terrorist organisation which has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir on 14 February 2019,” a statement read.
MEA further vowed to pursue “all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens” are brought to book.
Reportedly, the resolution on Azhar was supported by an unprecedented number of countries apart from the three permanent members and India. Germany, a non-permanent member became the co-sponsor of the proposal at the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.
China’s objections, which were made on technical grounds, came an hour before the deadline after which Azhar would have been tagged as a “global terrorist.”
While the UN banned JeM in 2001, India’s requests to brand Azhar as a global terrorist has been continually quashed by China — a strategic partner of neighbouring Pakistan where Azhar is said to have been residing.
Azhar is in Pakistan
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in an interview has confirmed that Azhar is in Pakistan and is so unwell that he cannot even get out of his house. Talking about his arrest, the Foreign Minister said that India would first have to provide “evidence which is acceptable in court”. The Indian government sent a dossier to both the UN and Pakistan which links Azhar to JeM and the recent Pulwama attack and yet no action has been taken.
Hitting out at the Pakistani government for its repeated attempts to shield Azhar, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, “ Some people say Imran Khan is a statesman, if he is so generous then he should hand over JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) chief Masood Azhar to India. Let’s see how generous he is.”
#WATCH EAM Sushma Swaraj in Delhi: We are ready to engage with Pakistan in atmosphere free from terror. Some people say Imran Khan is a statesman, if he is so generous then he should hand over JeM chief Masood Azhar to India. Let's see how generous he is. (13.03) pic.twitter.com/kgnDfv8gOY
— ANI (@ANI) March 14, 2019
“You not only keep JeM on your soil but fund them and when the victim country retaliates, you attack it on the terror outfit’s behalf,” she added.
Who is Masood Azhar?
Born in 1968 in Bahawalpur, in the central Pakistani province of Punjab, Masood Azhar created the terror outfit JeM which is responsible for attacks on the Indian soil including the 2001 Parliament attack, Pathankot and URI attack.
Azhar was arrested in India in 1994 for being a member of Harkat-ul Mujahideen— a militant group operating in Kashmir at the time. Subsequently, in 1999, India was forced to free Azhar and two others in exchange for passengers of an Indian Airlines flight IC814 which was hijacked and flown to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Soon after, Azhar established the JeM and by December 2001, his organisation was accused in a string of terrorist attacks.
After the 2001 Parliament attack in India, the Pakistani government detained Azhar. Since he could not be formally charged for the attack, the Lahore High Court in 2002 ended his house arrest.
After the 2002 kidnapping and killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl by Sheikh Ahmed Saeed Omar, a close aide of Azhar, the US sought Azhar’s custody to file charges against him for hijacking flight IC814, which had an American national on board. The Pakistani authorities not only denied the demands but also labelled his arrest in India illegal.
In the recent years, Azhar and his organisation have been accused of causing unrest in Kashmir by aiding and abetting militants and carrying terrorist activities in the valley, with the most recent being the Pulwama attack on February 14 which killed over 40 CRPF jawans. The JeM claimed responsibility of the attack and yet, Azhar lives on the Pakistani soil, scot free.
Opposition’s reaction to China’s blockade
Congress president Rahul Gandhi hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi after China blocked the latest proposal on Azhar. Gandhi said a “weak” Modi was scared of Xi Jinping and “not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India”
Weak Modi is scared of Xi. Not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India.
NoMo’s China Diplomacy:
1. Swing with Xi in Gujarat
2. Hug Xi in Delhi
3. Bow to Xi in China https://t.co/7QBjY4e0z3
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 14, 2019
Politician and Congress member Kapil Sibal also spoke along similar lines.
UN Security Council Resolution 1267
What happened to the Wuhan spirit ?
Now that Pakistan's big brother
Has protected Masood Azhar !
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) March 14, 2019
Former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah asked, “ PM Modi surrendered to China on Azhar and surrendered to Pakistan & its proxies by delaying elections in J&K. How can the BJP claim to have been tough on internal security and tough against terror?” Randeep Singh Surjewala, MLA and Congress member tweeted:
A sad day in the global fight against terrorism!
China blocking Masood Azhar's designation as global terrorist reaffirms Chinese position of being an inseparable ally of terrorism’s breeding ground-Pakistan
Sadly,Modiji's Foreign Policy has been a series of Diplomatic Disasters https://t.co/9m08uhjowj
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) March 13, 2019
Following the Chinese betrayal, #BoycottChina and #BoycottChineseProducts started trending on Twitter.
Written by : Sromona Bhattacharyya
Edited by : Poorbita Bagchi