A first step was taken by France which instituted a national ban on Azhar this morning. A statement issued by the French government said, “France has decided to sanction Masood Azhar at the national level by freezing his assets in the application of the Monetary and Financial Code. A joint decree of the Ministries of the Interior, and Economy and Finance was published today in the Official Gazette.” France said it would ask other European countries to “includ(e) Masood Azhar on the European Union list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts, based on this decree.” Officials said they were working to extend this ban throughout the EU’s 27 countries.
China’s continued block on listing Azhar prompted US diplomats at the UNSC yesterday were quoted as saying, “responsible member states may be forced to pursue other actions at the Security Council. It shouldn’t have to come to that.”
Diplomatic sources familiar with developments said other options include “tweaking” the language of the listing to ban Azhar which may make it easier for China to accept. The “nuclear option” which no one wants to get to is to take the vote to the entire Security Council — which would force China to exercise its veto and embarrass Beijing.
Meanwhile, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj took to Twitter to say that 14 out of 15 members of the UN Security Council supported the proposal to list Azhar as a terrorist. Of these, seven countries are members of the UNSC — US, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Equatorial Guinea. In addition, the proposal found co-sponsors from countries not members of the UNSC — Maldives, Bangladesh, Australia, Canada, Japan, Italy, Bhutan.
Swaraj, hitting back at opposition who said PM Modi was “weak” and that China’s block on Azhar was a sign of Indian government failure, said, “we have secured an unprecedented support from the international community for listing of Masood Azhar under the UN Sanctions Committee.” The proposal, she said, was put forward four times. In 2009, India was the lone sponsor, in 2016, she said, it was co-sponsored by UK, USA and France. In 2017 as in 2019, the proposal was moved by the UK, US and France.