Balakot action ‘over,’ government focuses on diplomatic game plan

Balakot action ‘over,’ government focuses on diplomatic game plan

The government also felt “encouraged” by China’s decision to allow a UNSC statement calling for action against the JeM, sources said.

With military action against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camp in Balakot “over”, the government is now focussed on a multi-pronged diplomatic drive across world capitals to ensure that the UNSC lists JeM chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist on March 13, sources involved in the outreach said.

However, “if there is any subsequent terrorist attack then all options are available for the government of India,” the sources warned, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The diplomatic push includes actions being taken by diplomats at the UN Security Council in New York, with the Financial Action Task Force in Paris, and by getting friendly countries to directly exert pressure on Pakistan to take “credible” action against Azhar, and other leaders of the JeM as well as the Lashkar-e-Toiba Chief Hafiz Saeed, the sources said.

“We are taking steps to reach out to all 15 members of the UN Security Council who are also members of the 1267 [Al Qaeda affiliated terror listing] Committee, both in their capitals and at the UN itself,” the sources said. “No stone will be left unturned by us to do this,” they asserted, adding that India had also reached out to all countries at the UN to add pressure on their regional representatives at the UNSC to endorse the listing.

At present, apart from the permanent members the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia and China, the UNSC comprises Belgium, Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and South Africa.

As The Hindu had reported last week, the government has already shared its dossier on the JeM and its link to the Pulwama attack with the Pakistan government, and with other countries at the UN.

In the copy of the UNSC listing filed by France, U.K. and U.S., Masood Azhar has been named for “financially supporting” JeM, for recruiting jihadi volunteers for Afghanistan to fight “western forces”, and for the February 14 Pulwama attack that killed 40 Indian police officers, for which the JeM had claimed responsibility.

‘Huge political signal’

The sources said while they could not confirm whether China would allow Azhar’s listing this time or put a hold on it, as it has three times in the past three years, the government was “encouraged” by China’s decision to allow a UNSC statement calling for action against the JeM, and by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Beijing last week.

“Should [the listing] happen, the political signal to Pakistan would be huge,” the official said, adding that after the Masood Azhar listing which was the “first step”, the government would proceed against other terrorist leaders in Pakistan.

Meanwhile India would also maintain the pressure on UN members to ensure that Hafiz Saeed, who is on the 1267 terror list, was not allowed to “go all over the place” and meet with Pakistani ministers of the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Under the UNSC sanctions, designated entities are banned from travel outside the country, face an assets freeze and can’t access weapons.

India would also “carefully document” each action taken by Pakistan’s government as part of its obligations to the FATF “between now and June”. The international terror-financing watchdog will complete a review in May 2019 on the basis of a 27-point action report and, if it finds Pakistan not to be in compliance, recommend a possible blacklisting later this year.

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