Security Council declaring Masood Azhar a terrorist is no victory for India

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]N May 1,  2019 the ISIL and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the United Nations Security Council listed Jaish E Mohammed founder and leader Masood Azhar as a person subject to UN Sanctions. In effect it had designated him a global terrorist.

Strangely, however,  India did not even figure on the list of reasons for Azhar’s designation and by all account it would appear that the terror attacks in Kashmir, in particular, the recent dastardly ambush on Indian troops in Pulwama, were not taken into account when the UN decided to label him a global terrorist. Azhar has been listed as a terrorist by the committee for his ties to Al-Qaeda.

Sanctions by the United Nations Security Council are issued as measures under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. Resolutions by the Security Council under this chapter are binding on all states. Unfortunately adding someone’s name to the ISIL and Al-Qaeda Sanctions List does not do much practically to the person being so designated.


Good company


Azhar is essentially subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban. Quite simply, this means he does not have access to funds nor does he have the ability to travel out of Pakistan. He will be in good company though – Pakistan has about 150 of its nationals on the list.

But this action by the United Nations Security Council does not  authorise Azhar’s detention. It does not  impose bans on him going about his propaganda and trying to recruit more terrorists. It does not stop him from providing covert support to extremists in  Kashmir. In fact, it does not even prevent Azhar from entering Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

Despite being designated as a “Global Terrorist”, there is nothing in international law right now that can stop Azhar from standing on one side of the Line of Control and spouting hatred at the other side.


Asset freeze or not


What of the asset freeze? Pakistan will now have to freeze all of Azhar’s assets, which should look like a welcome step; but Azhar’s assets may not be in legitimate banking channels. The order does not  call for the confiscation of his assets. Azhar will still have access to all the cash that he has with him, and using the informal money transfer network in South Asia (hawala), Azhar can just go about his regular business as the asset freeze does not affect the hawala network.

Which leads us to question if there is actually a “substantial” victory on the diplomatic arena. It does nothing to Pakistan as Pakistan already has the highest number of people on the list. It does not do much to Azhar as it does not force Pakistan to prosecute him or detain him or send him to India to face justice before Indian courts.

The ban also does not really stop him from carrying out his anti-India agenda. So while it may be a good “diplomatic” victory for the mandarins at the Ministry of External Affairs, on a practical level that victory actually rings hollow.

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