Qureshi Hints Pak May Not Oppose Listing Azhar as Global Terrorist
Pakistan Foreign Minister said, “Time has come for Pakistan to decide in its own interests.”
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday, 4 March hinted that his country may not oppose a joint move by France, Britain and the US in the UN Security Council to list Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group's chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.
"Time has come for Pakistan to decide in its own interests. We will do what's in Pakistan's interests," Qureshi told Geo TV in an interview.
Last week, the US, the UK and France moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject him to global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.
The Security Council Sanctions Committee has 10 working days to consider the fresh proposal submitted by the three members. It is the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.
When asked whether Pakistan will request its close ally China to veto the resolution once again in the UNSC, Qureshi said his government will try to build a consensus among all parties and do what's in Pakistan's interests.
“We have some global commitments...We will have to take action which doesn’t harm our global reputation,” he said, without elaborating.
Describing the situation following the Pulwama terror attack as a "defining moment" for Pakistan, he said Pakistan doesn't want to go for a war with India.
"We want peace. Our people want jobs, they want reforms in institutions, they want us to crackdown on corruption...," he added.
History of Proposals Against Masood Azhar
In 2009, India moved a proposal to designate Azhar, whose UN-proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the suicide attack against Indian security forces in Pulwama on 14 February in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed.
In 2016 again, India moved the proposal with the P3 – the US, the UK 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.
It remains to be seen how China will vote on the proposal this time.
India has strongly reiterated its appeal to all members of the international community to support the proposal to list terrorists, including Azhar, as designated terrorists under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council, and to ban terrorist organisations operating from territories controlled by Pakistan.
‘Pakistan Reviewing India’s Dossier About JeM Involvement in Pulwama Attack’
India, on Wednesday, 28 February, handed over to Pakistan a dossier on "specific details" of involvement of JeM in the Pulwama attack.
When asked about the dossier on JeM handed over by India, Qureshi said, "We are examining it and we will respond accordingly."
Pakistan has decided to launch a crackdown on terror outfits, including JeM and its chief Azhar, in order to de-escalate the tensions with India and the action is "expected any time soon", reported news agency PTI quoting a top government source.
Pakistan on Monday, 4 March promulgated a law to streamline the procedure for the implementation of the UN sanctions against individuals and organisations, amid mounting pressure from the global community to rein in the terror groups operating on its soil and curb their financing.
‘India Must Solve Kashmir Problem First’
Qureshi, in his interview, said since Kashmir is the main bone of contention between India and Pakistan, the ruling government must prioritise resolving the issues of the Kashmiri people by listening to their problems. He said the Modi govt should consider starting a dialogue with leaders like Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti to resolve the Kashmiri issue.
For Pakistan too, he said, the solution to the Kashmir problem can be found by bringing in the people who are suffering on board.
(With inputs from PTI)
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