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Azhar A Global Terrorist: How Does It Change Things for India?

The United Nations, on 1 May, designated Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”.

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The United Nations on Wednesday, 1 May, designated Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a "global terrorist" after China lifted its hold on a proposal to blacklist him.

The move comes a decade after New Delhi approached the world body for the first time on the issue. China has blocked the listing of Azhar as a global terrorist four times in the past.

Former ambassador Virendra Gupta and former ambassador Pinak Chakravarty spoke to BloombergQuint's Tamanna Inamdar on whether the reference to the Pulwama attack being removed from the final listing some sort of deal with China and whether this ‘diplomatic victory’ for India credited to the Modi government.

Responding to a question on how big a deal it is for India: Gupta said "Masood Azhar ought to have been there (on the list) a log time ago. "It will put pressure on Pakistan to take action against its homegrown terror."

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In reference to the mention of Pulwama attacks, where over 40 jawans were martyred, being removed from the final draft, Gupta said: "It doesn't matter in the big picture. What is important here is that (Masood) Azhar has been proscribed.. finally.”

Pakistan on Wednesday said it would "immediately enforce the sanctions" imposed by UN on Masood Azhar and said it agreed to his listing after all "political references," including attempts to link him to the Pulwama attack, were removed from the proposal.

“Putting him on the sanctions list also doesn’t make much of a difference since it is a symbolic win for India. It puts pressure on Pakistan to check radicalisation and growing terror activities and on its soil. Islamabad will now face heat in terms of increasing isolation in the international community,” Gupta, who has over 35 years of experience as an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) official, said.

Gupta, while responding to a question on whether the move is an impact of Modi government's efforts, said: "It is natural for the government of the day to take credit for the recent development.”

He, however, pointed out that the “Indian side has been making similar efforts since 2009.”

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In 2009, India had moved a proposal by itself to designate Azhar as “global terrorist.”

In 2016 again, India moved the proposal with the P3 - the United States, the United Kingdom and France in the UN's 1267 Sanctions Committee to ban Azhar, also the mastermind of the attack on the air base in Pathankot in January 2016.

In 2017, the P3 nations moved a similar proposal again.

However, on all occasions, China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, blocked India’s proposal from being adopted by the Sanctions Committee.

Other names in the list of proscribed global terrorists including Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim haven’t been brought to book.

Responding to a question on its implications in terms of India's diplomatic victory, Chakravarty said “There seems to be a deal between Pakistan and China, primarily, because China has been facing heat at the United Nations (for blocking the move several times in the past).”

Soon after the designation, China said that it took the decision after it found no objection to the listing proposal by the US, the UK and France following a careful study of the "revised materials".

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China, in March, had put a hold on a fresh proposal by the US, UK and France to impose a ban on the chief of the JeM, which claimed responsibility for the deadly 14 February Pulwama terror attack. The proposal was the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.

“Pakistan wanted some face-saver, which is why they must have urged Beijing for a change in language so as to delink the most recent incident that took place in Pulwama on 14 February,” Chakravarty, who is also a distinguished fellow at ORF, said.

This kind of changes in languages is routine in international diplomacy at the multilateral forums, he added.

Throwing light on the significance of the move to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, Chakravarty said: "The finger has again been pointed at Pakistan, that it is a country that harbours terrorism.. Islamabad's image is already damaged beyond repair but this kind of finger-pointing from an international organisation like the UN obviously means that Pakistan will have to worry about it..”

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Chakravarty, to assert his point, went on to cite examples of how international pressure is mounting on Pakistan in the wake of growing radicalisation and increased terror activities on its soil.

“In the European parliament, over 51 MPs have signed a petition stating that Pakistan is doing very little to protect its minorities and that Europe must withdraw certain facilities like the GSP from Pakistan,” Chakravarty pointed out, saying the move, if implemented, will be a huge blow for Pakistan's exports.

He cited another example of FATF that is still considering whether or not to blacklist Pakistan. “If that happens, then all the international credit that flows into that country (Pakistan) will dry up,” Chakravarty said.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an intergovernmental organization that was founded on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.

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