In what came as major diplomatic victory for India, Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar was on Wednesday listed as a 'global terrorist' by the UN Security Council. The development comes after China, after blocking New Delhi's efforts four times, finally backed the latter's bid at the UN.
"Big, small, all join together. Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist in @UN Sanctions list. Grateful to all for their support," India's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin tweeted. When asked whether China has lifted the hold, Akbaruddin said "yes, done."
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.
Meanwhile, Pakistan media quoted Foreign Ministry saying that it will "immediately enforce UN sanctions" imposed on JeM chief Masood Azhar.
Lauding the government's efforts, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted: "India stands vindicated. Masood Azhar is now a global terrorist. India is in safe hands. This marks a high point for the Prime Minister’s foreign policy."
A UNSC designation will subject Azhar to an assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo.
In recent days, there had been indications that China is likely to come around and will lift its hold on the Azhar proposal. Beijing had said on Tuesday that the vexed issue of designating Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN will be "properly resolved."
China removed its hold on the proposal, which was moved by France, UK and the US in the Security Council's 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee in February just days after the horrific terror attack against Indians security forces in Pulwama carried out by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish.
China had put a technical hold in March on a fresh proposal to impose a ban on the head of Pakistan-based JeM which claimed responsibility for the deadly Pulwama terror attack. It was for the fourth time, China blocked Azhar's listing as a global terrorist by the UN.
The efforts to resolve Azhar's listing issue gathered momentum last week with the visit of Imran Khan to Beijing to attend China's 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF) which was held here from April 25-27. During the visit, Khan held talks with Xi, besides meeting Premier Li Keqiang and Vice President Wang Qishan during which India-Pakistan tension following the Pulwama terror attack as well as listing of Azhar reportedly figured.
China, which is one of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council, blocked India's efforts in the past to list Azhar as a global terrorist, saying there is not enough evidence against him.
France welcomed UN's decision to desginate Azhar as 'global terrorist'. "French diplomacy has been relentlessly pleading for sanctioning Azhar, head of the terrorist group responsible, notably, for the Pulwama attack last February. France had adopted national sanctions against Masood Azhar on 15th March," said a statement by French government.
ANI quoted government sources saying that Azhar was put under house arrest at Markaz Subhan Allah in Bahawalpur, post Balakot attack and was recently shifted to a safe house in Islamabad.
Four previous attempts by India at UN
In 2009, India had moved a proposal by itself to designate Azhar.
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.
The Jaish-e-Mohammad chief was a close associate of Osama bin Laden, terror motivator in several African countries and also known by many as the Pakistani cleric who brought jihad into the religious discourse at mosques in the UK, the official said
The influence of the 50-year-old overweight terrorist mastermind was so huge that, when he was released by India in exchange for freeing the hijacked Indian Airlines aircraft IC-814 on December 31, 1999 in Kandahar, Laden hosted a banquet for him the same night