No curb on Azhar, years after UNSC noted his Laden link

Last Updated 04 March 2019, 17:25 IST

NEW DELHI, DHNS: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) named Masood Azhar as the founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammad long back, but inexplicably could not yet place him under sanctions.

The UN Security Council in 2001 designated the JeM as an entity associated with now-deceased Osama bin Laden, his terror network al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Security Council's documents also indicate that it acknowledged Azhar as the founder of the JeM at least since 2011. Yet it failed to place him under international sanctions in the past so many years.

A UNSC “narrative summary” on the JeM dated October 17, 2011, noted that it was an “extremist group based in Pakistan founded by Masood Azhar upon his release from prison in India in 1999 in exchange for 155 hostages held on an Indian Airlines flight that had been hijacked to Kandahar, Afghanistan”.

The Security Council also acknowledged in its narrative summery back in 2011 that Azhar had “formed the JeM with support” from Laden, the Taliban and several other extremist organisations.

India has long been drawing the attention of the Security Council to the “anomaly” of the JeM being under UN sanctions, but not its founder leader.

Yet Azhar remained out of the purview of the sanctions and lived free at Kausar Colony at Bahawalpur in Punjab Province of Pakistan although the UNSC had long back acknowledged the fact that Azhar had met the criteria— being linked to Laden, al-Qaeda and Taliban— for being placed under sanctions by the international organisation.

New Delhi renewed its efforts to bring Azhar under UN sanctions after the JeM carried out attacks on the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathakot in Punjab in January 2016.

China, however, blocked all moves by the US, the UK and France— three of the five UNSC permanent members— over the past three years to designate the 51-year-old radical cleric as an individual associated with the al-Qaeda and Taliban, although it was a fact that had already been accepted and acknowledged by the Security Council.

After over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed by the JeM on February 14 at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir; the US, the UK and France took a fresh initiative to place the JeM chief under sanctions last week.

A month after September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, a committee of the UN Security Council on October 7, 2001, designated the JeM as an organisation associated with the al-Qaeda and Taliban.

The outfit was immediately put under full spectrum UN sanctions— assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo— for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of”, “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to” or “otherwise supporting acts or activities of” Laden, his al-Qaeda network and the Taliban.

The JeM members also set up two humanitarian aid agencies to work as its fronts in Pakistan— Al-Akhtar Trust International and Alkhair Trust.

The JeM top brass, in fact, sought to give the impression that the two new organisations were separate entities.

It also sought to use them as a way to deliver arms and ammunition to its members under the guise of providing humanitarian aid to refugees and other needy groups, says the UNSC “narrative summary” on the outfit.

(Published 04 March 2019, 15:43 IST)

Follow us on