Foreign Minister Qureshi hints Pakistan may not oppose listing of JeM chief Azhar as global terrorist by UNSC

PTI Islamabad, Pakistan Mar 04, 2019, 10.47 PM(IST)

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Photograph:( AFP )

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'Time has come for Pakistan to decide in its own interests. We will do what's in Pakistan's interests,' Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Geo TV in an interview.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday 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 crack down on corruption...," he added.

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 February 14 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 airbase 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.

Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based JeM killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir on February 14. 

India Wednesday handed over to Pakistan a dossier on "specific details" of involvement of JeM in the attack.

When asked about the dossier on JeM handed over by India, Qureshi said, "We are examining it and we will respond accordingly."

According to a top government source here, 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".

Pakistan Monday 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.