New Delhi: The US is believed to have assured India that it will put pressure on both China as well as Pakistan to ensure that Masood Azhar, founder of terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), is designated an international terrorist by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), a top government official said.
Speaking to ThePrint, the official said Azhar satisfied all the criteria laid down for an individual’s designation as a terrorist by the UNSC’s 1267 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.
“The US now shares India’s concern on cross-border terrorism and it believes that for the larger goal of peace in the region, it is imperative that Pakistan takes action on the terrorist groups breeding on its soil,” the official told ThePrint.
“US shares India’s views that Azhar can be designated a global terrorist because he meets all the criteria,” the official added.
The criteria for a group or individual’s identification by the UNSC’s 1267 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee include “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of” (the two groups), “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to” (the groups), or “recruiting for, or otherwise supporting acts or activities of, ISIL (Da’esh), Al Qaeda or any cell, affiliate, splinter group or derivative thereof”.
ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Da’esh are alternative names for the West Asia-based Islamic State.
China has thrice stalled efforts
China, a permanent member of the UNSC, has been helping ally Pakistan stall India’s efforts to get Azhar tagged as an international terrorist, a move that would mean an assets freeze and travel ban for the Pakistan-based terrorist mastermind.
Beijing has thrice blocked efforts made by different countries to ban the JeM chief.
The JeM, which claimed responsibility for the 14 February attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama, is already banned.
The issue of criteria, something the Chinese have always cited as an excuse for its opposition, was discussed in detail during a meeting between Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo in Washington Monday, the official said, adding that India had mentioned all the terrorist activities carried out by JeM with proper evidence.
Apart from Pakistan, India has shared the dossier with all the ‘P-5’, or ‘Permanent Five’, members of the UNSC — the US, China, France, Russia and the UK.
“Masood Azhar is the founder and leader of the JeM, and he meets the criteria for designation by the UN’s 1267 committee’s sanctions list,” a spokesperson of the US Embassy in New Delhi told ThePrint.
“The JeM has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a threat to regional stability and peace,” the spokesperson added, pointing out that the outfit was designated a terrorist group by the UNSC’s 1267 committee in October 2001 as an affiliate of the Al Qaeda.
“We will continue to work with the sanctions committee to ensure that the sanctions designation list is updated and accurate…,” the spokesperson said. “The United States and China share a mutual interest in achieving regional stability and peace. A failure to designate Azhar would run counter to this goal.”
The US, the UK and France have supported India’s efforts to get Azhar banned by the UNSC committee, moving a fresh proposal to this effect after the Pulwama attack triggered a fresh wave of hostilities between India and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, another government official said the US, France and the UK were engaging intense back-channel talks with China to prevent it from opposing the latest bid for Azhar’s designation as terrorist.
With just 24 hours left to raise an objection at the sanctions committee, which had set 13 March as the deadline, India remains hopeful that this time Beijing will support the attempt.
US NSA dials Pakistan
During his meeting with Gokhale, Pompeo “expressed his understanding of India’s concerns regarding cross-border terrorism” even as both sides agreed that Pakistan needs to take “concerted action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and to deny safe haven to all terrorist groups in its territory”, said a statement issued after their meeting.
Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser John Bolton had a phone conversation with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, where the former “appreciated Pakistan’s measures, which had helped lower [bilateral] tension and urged continued restraint on both sides”, according to a press statement issued by Pakistan.