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Pak govt issues order to implement sanctions against Jaish chief Masood Azhar

Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said Pakistan would “immediately enforce the sanctions” on Azhar. He added Prime Minister Imran Khan had “clearly stated there is no space for any proscribed organisation or its affiliates to operate from Pakistani territory”.

india Updated: May 03, 2019 01:22 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad and Rezaul H Laskar
Imtiaz Ahmad and Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, Islamabad/New Delhi
The Pakistan government has issued a notification directing authorities to implement sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar following his listing as a global terrorist
The Pakistan government has issued a notification directing authorities to implement sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar following his listing as a global terrorist (AFP File Photo)
         

The Pakistan government has issued a notification directing authorities to implement sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar following his listing as a global terrorist by the UN though it was unclear whether he would be detained.

A “statutory regulatory order” (SRO) issued by the foreign ministry said authorities should freeze Azhar’s funds and financial assets and enforce a travel ban and arms embargo against him. The order was issued after the UN’s Islamic State and al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee listed Azhar on Wednesday after China removed its long-standing block to the move.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said Pakistan would “immediately enforce the sanctions” on Azhar. He added Prime Minister Imran Khan had “clearly stated there is no space for any proscribed organisation or its affiliates to operate from Pakistani territory”.

Azhar, 50, is believed to be ailing and is reportedly based at a JeM facility at Bahawalpur in Punjab province. He has rarely been seen in public in recent years and had created a flutter when he emerged from years in seclusion to address a rally in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir by phone in January 2014.

After the JeM claimed the Pulwama suicide attack on February 14 that killed 40 Indian troops, Pakistani authorities rounded up scores of operatives of the banned group, including Azhar’s son Hamad Azhar and brother Abdul Rauf Asghar, and took over several madrassas and other facilities in March. People familiar with developments said it was not immediately clear whether Azhar too will be detained.

In March, the Pakistan government issued the UNSC (Freezing and Seizure) Order, providing the legal basis for freezing or seizing properties owned by designated terrorists and terror groups. The order was also meant to meet the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) requirements related to implementing UN sanctions.

In New Delhi, Indian officials said Azhar’s listing will lead to increased pressure on Pakistan from FATF to crack down on terror financing. The Paris-based multilateral watchdog placed Pakistan on its “grey list” last year for failing to do enough to counter the funding of groups such as JeM and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Finance minister Arun Jaitely told reporters India will also ask the FATF to put Pakistan on a “black list”, a move that could invite harsher sanctions. “We want Pakistan downgraded on the FATF list,” he said, adding India will make its request at the body’s next meeting.

In February, the FATF said after a review that Pakistan “does not demonstrate a proper understanding” of terror financing risks posed by groups such as JeM. It also urged Pakistan to meet its targets under an action plan before another review in May.

The Indian officials, who didn’t want to be named, said FATF’s action plan specifically mentioned Pakistan has to demonstrate effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all UN-designated terrorists, including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing movable and immovable assets and prohibiting access to funds and financial services.

First Published: May 03, 2019 01:22 IST

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