MORE THAN a month after China placed a technical hold on the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is likely to discuss the issue again Wednesday when Beijing is likely to lift the hold, sources told The Indian Express. "No matter how the worldwide and regional situation may evolve, we firmly support Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty and dignity, independently choosing its development path based on its own conditions, securing a sound external environment and playing a constructive role in global and regional affairs", Geng said. India's effort to ban Azhar by its diplomatic relations and negotiations between USA, UK and France with China at the UNSC is leading to a fruitful outcome against the Pulwama attack mastermind in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed in J&K. But on March 13, the day of the deadline for the listing of Azhar, China had put a hold, citing more time to understand the issue.
Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said Islamabad agreed to the move after the listing removed references to the February attack in the Indian city of Pulwama, as well as linking it to the insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir, which Pakistan terms a struggle for self-determination.
"The Government of Pakistan has since January 2019 accelerated the implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism and extremism".
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Azhar's JeM had claimed responsibility for the four deadliest terror attacks in India since the turn of the century. It defended its move saying it was only following procedure and needed more time to review the proposal.
For India, this is a major diplomatic victory.
India and its ally had accused Masood Azhar of involvement in Pulwama attack. French foreign ministry in a statement said, "French diplomacy has been relentlessly pleading for sanctioning Azhar, head of the terrorist group responsible, notably, for the Pulwama attack last February".
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The US, the United Kingdom and France had moved the proposal to designate Azhar as a "global terrorist" in the UN Security Council's 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee in February, just days after the deadly Pulwama terror attack carried out by the JeM in Jammu and Kashmir.
The FO spokesperson reiterated Pakistan's efforts to fight extremism as well as its continued stance of not letting any banned outfits operate from its territory. However, the latest block resulted in global criticism of China for providing an escape route to Azhar, especially after Beijing signed off on a UN Security Council statement condemning the Pulwama attack that named JeM. A French official at the United Nations told PTI, "We commend this designation; we have been advocating for the sanctioning of Masood Azhar for many years". The proposal was moved the United States, the UK, France and co-sponsored by Australia, Bangladesh, Italy and Japan.
On Tuesday, China dropped a hint that it could lift its hold on the proposal to blacklist Azhar. "This marks a high point for the Prime Minister's foreign policy", he said.
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Masood Azhar's listing as a global terrorist comes 10 years after India moved a proposal in this regard at the United Nations, only to be blocked repeatedly by China.