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Washington, DC – The United States welcomed the move by the United Nations to designate as a terrorist, the leader of a militant group behind a deadly bomb attack that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Welcoming the UN announcement, a US State Department spokesperson said in a statement to IAT, “The United States welcomes the addition of Masood Azhar to the UN 1267 ISIL and al-Qaida Sanctions list. This listing requires all UN member states to implement an assets freeze, a travel ban, and an arms embargo against Azhar. We expect all countries to uphold these obligations.”

Reiterating the long-standing US stand, the spokesperson said, “Jaish-e Mohammed (JEM) is a United Nations-designated terrorist group, and Azhar, as the founder and leader of JEM, clearly met the criteria for designation by the United Nations. JEM has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a serious threat to regional stability and peace,” noting that, “United Nations sanctions committee deliberations are confidential.”

Pakistan Base

On Pakistan where Azhar is based, the US statement said, “We appreciate Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s stated commitment that Pakistan, for the sake of its own future, will not allow the operation of militant and terrorist groups from its territory. We are encouraged by initial steps taken by the Government of Pakistan in this regard.”

The spokesperson hoped Islamabad will act firmly, saying, “We look forward to further and sustained actions from Pakistan as outlined in its National Action Plan, and consistent with its international obligations.”

Announcing that Islamabad will immediately enforce the sanctions, Pakistani Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Faisal said, “Pakistan maintains that terrorism is a menace to the world, including the Indian state-sponsored terrorism against innocent Kashmiris.” But Faisal added that it would be false to present the development as a “victory for India and validation of its stance”.

Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), allegedly carried out a suicide bombing in February killing 40 troops in Kashmir. The UN proposal was recently introduced the US, Britain and France after the Kashmir attacks – the deadliest in the disputed region during a 30-year-long insurgency.

France Welcomes

France in a statement welcomed, “This decision taken at the United Nations Security Council signals the successful realization of our efforts,” adding, “France remains mobilized at all levels and all fora to take effective measures against terrorism.”

French statement noted: “For many years now, French diplomacy has been relentlessly pleading for sanctioning Mr Azhar, head of the terrorist group responsible, notably, for the Pulwama attack last February. In application of its Monetary and Financial Code, France had adopted national sanctions against Masood Azhar on 15th March.”

China Factor

The latest UN move came after China, an ally of Pakistan dropped its objection to the listing on Wednesday (May 1) but had previously blocked the sanctions committee from imposing sanctions on Azhar in 2016 and 2017 and had raised objections in recent times.

China explained its change of stand in a statement on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People’s Republic of China. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said: “On this listing issue, China has been communicating with relevant parties in a constructive and responsible fashion. Recently, relevant countries revised and re-submitted the materials for the listing proposal to the 1267 Committee. After careful study of the revised materials and taking into consideration the opinions of relevant parties concerned, China does not have objection to the listing proposal.”

In its statement, China reiterated support for its ally Pakistan saying, “I would like to stress that Pakistan has made enormous contributions to fighting terrorism, which deserves the full recognition of the international community. China will continue to firmly support Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorist and extremist forces.”

Diplomatic Win for India

India hailed it as a diplomatic victory. “Big, small, all join together. Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist in @UN Sanctions list. Grateful to all for their support,” Syed Akbaruddin, India’s ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted.

Calling it a “a step in the right direction to demonstrate the international community’s resolve to fight against terrorism and its enablers,” the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar welcomed the decision.

“This is in accordance with India’s position and in line with the information that India has shared with the members of the Sanctions Committee regarding terrorist activities of Masood Azhar and the Jaish-e-Mohammad. India will continue with its efforts through international forums to ensure that terrorist organizations and their leaders who cause harm to our citizens are brought to justice,” Kumar added.

Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Army of Mohammad came into existence when Masood Azhar founded the group after he was released by India in 1999, one of three men set free in exchange for the crew and passengers of an Indian Airlines plane hijacked and flown to then Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

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