France sanctions JeM founder Masood Azhar
Despite China’s blocking of the fourth effort to sanction Azhar at the UN Security Council on February 13, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Friday that international support for attempts to designate the JeM chief at the world body has grown over the years.Updated: Mar 15, 2019 23:55 IST
France on Friday sanctioned Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and said it would take up the matter of including him in a European Union list of terrorist individuals against the backdrop of China blocking an attempt to list him at the UN Security Council.
The move, which came two days after China placed a “technical hold” on a proposal spearheaded by France to designate Azhar as a global terrorist with the UN’s Islamic State and al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, reflected the frustration and anger in Western capitals, people familiar with developments said. A joint statement issued by France’s ministries of Europe and foreign affairs, economy and finance and interior, said: “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 interior and economy and finance was published in the official gazette on Friday.
“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.
“France has always been and always will be by India’s side in the fight against terrorism,” it added.
An Indian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The development is the result of India’s focus on working with international interlocutors on counter-terrorism. It also reflects their disappointment with China’s hold on Azhar’s listing and is their way of expressing solidarity with India.” The French statement noted that JeM, “which the United Nations has deemed to be a terrorist organisation since 2001”, had claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in Pulwama on February 14 that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force troops. There was no clarity on the JeM’s assets in France and the French statement did not specify the assets that authorities intended to freeze.
Despite China’s blocking of the fourth effort to sanction Azhar at the UN Security Council on February 13, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Friday that international support for attempts to designate the JeM chief at the world body has grown over the years.
In a series of tweets, Swaraj noted that the Indian government was the lone proposer of a 2009 move to sanction Azhar under the UN Sanctions Committee. The second proposal, moved by India in 2016, was co-sponsored by the US, France and Britain, while the third proposal in 2017 was moved by the US, Britain and France.
The fourth and most recent proposal was moved last month by France, the US and the UK, and supported by all but one of the 15 members of the UN Security Council.
It was co-sponsored by Australia, Bangladesh, Italy and Japan who are not members of the Security Council.
“Thus, we have secured an unprecedented support from the international community for listing of Masood Azhar under the UN Sanctions Committee,” Swaraj said.
First Published: Mar 15, 2019 23:55 IST