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Pak May Withdraw Opposition to List Masood Azhar as Global Terrorist, Could Act Against JeM: Report

It is not clear what specific action would be taken against Azhar but an official hinted that Pakistan may withdraw its opposition to the listing of JeM chief as global terrorist by the UN Security Council.

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Updated:March 4, 2019, 8:23 AM IST
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Pak May Withdraw Opposition to List Masood Azhar as Global Terrorist, Could Act Against JeM: Report
File photo of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar. (Reuters)
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Islamabad: In order to de-escalate the tensions with India, the Pakistan government has decided to launch a crackdown on terror outfit Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, news agency PTI quoted a top government source as saying, while a media report on Sunday stated that Islamabad may even withdraw its opposition to the move to list him as global terrorist in the UN Security Council.

"The government has decided in principle to launch crackdown on the leadership of the JeM (Azhar)," the source was quoted as saying. He said the action against JeM in the country is "expected any time soon".

To a question about the Azhar's fate, the official source was quoted as saying that he cannot confirm whether he would be put under house arrest or taken into custody.

The US, the UK and France on Wednesday moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Pakistan-based chief Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject him to global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.

In a major policy decision, Pakistan is set to take decisive action against all proscribed organisations as well as against the head of banned JeM, a senior security official familiar with the development quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.

It is not clear what specific action would be taken against Azhar but the official hinted that Pakistan may withdraw its opposition to the listing of JeM chief as global terrorist by the UN Security Council.

"The state has to decide whether individual is important or the larger national interest of the country," the official said when asked if Pakistan would no more oppose the UNSC action against Azhar.

The Security Council Sanctions Committee will consider within 10 days on the fresh proposal moved by the three permanent veto-wielding members of the 15-nation Security Council. The proposal is the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May called up Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday and emphasised the importance of Pakistan taking action against all terrorist groups.

India and Pakistan came to the brink of war this week as tensions escalated following a suicide car bombing that killed at least 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama.

India has accused Pakistan of harbouring the Jaish-e Mohammad group behind the attack, which Islamabad denied.

In 2009, India moved a proposal to designate Azhar, whose UN-proscribed JeM claimed responsibility for the suicide attack against Indian security forces in Pulwama on February 14 in which over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed.

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 official, however, insisted that the move to take action against such individuals was taken before the Pulwama attack, the report said. He also clarified Pakistan's decision to act decisively was taken not to give any "face saving" to India.

"We need to correct ourselves in our own national interests and not someone else's," the official was quoted as saying in the report. The official further said that the Pakistani authorities had conducted investigations into the Pulwama terror attack on CRPF personnel in and found "no evidence whatsoever of any involvement of Pakistan or any organisation in it."

Stressing that the country's leadership was determined to take action against anyone found involved in the Pulwama attack, he said the dossier shared by India with Pakistan had nothing in it that suggested involvement of any Pakistani organisation.

(With inputs from PTI)
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