India says it will seek downgrading of Pakistan on terrorism financing list day after Masood Azhar sanctioned by the UN.
A day after the United Nations added Masood Azhar, the leader of a Pakistan-based armed group, to its list of “global terrorists”, India said it will seek the downgrading of Pakistan on the global “terrorism financing” list.
India’s finance minister, Arun Jaitley, on Thursday said that New Delhi would formally submit a request before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) when the Paris-based body meets in mid-May.
The FATF, a global body created to combat money laundering, already has Pakistan on its “grey list” of countries with inadequate controls over curbing money laundering and “terrorism financing”.
Jaitley also said that the labelling of Azhar as a global terrorist is a “great diplomatic achievement for India”.
The worst attack on security forces in decades brought the nuclear-armed neighbours to the brink of war.
Pakistan’s ally, China, had repeatedly opposed the efforts of the UN by Western powers to directly sanction Azhar, even though the JeM had already been blacklisted by the UN Security Council in 2001.
Azhar’s freedom within Pakistan has been a sore point in the relationship between western countries and Pakistan, and has led to repeated accusations by India that Islamabad uses and harbours armed groups to further its foreign policy agenda. Pakistan denies such accusations.
“The ball is now in Pakistan’s court. Designation under the 1267 committee requires state to take action against terrorist groups on its soil,” Ajai Shukla, an Indian security analyst, told Al Jazeera.
“Whether Pakistan takes action or not, India gets to gain something. If it [Pakistan] takes action, it will mean curtailment of the Jaish-e-Muhammad activities as a terrorist group that is fomenting terrorism in India.
“If Pakistan doesn’t take action then it will stand exposed as a state that does not take necessary action against terrorist groups,” he added.
India sent warplanes into the nuclear-armed neighbour to bomb what New Delhi claimed was a JeM camp. The two countries were engaged in an aerial dogfight that resulted in the downing of an Indian fighter jet and capture of its pilot by Islamabad.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has since made national security the main plank during the multi-phase general elections that began on April 11. Results will be out on May 23.
“The world can’t anymore ignore the voice of 1.3 billion Indians,” Modi said at an election rally on Wednesday, calling the UN decision a great diplomatic victory for the country.
Modi’s re-election bid has received a big fillip in the wake of the UN blacklisting of Azhar, with Indians praising the government’s diplomatic efforts at the UN.
“UN placing Masood Azhar on its global terror list, after China removed objections is a big diplomatic win for India,” Angana Guha Roy, a researcher based in Delhi, told Al Jazeera.
“It also indicates America’s uncompromising diplomatic support for India’s tough stand against terrorism.”
Pakistan’s foreign ministry responded on Wednesday after the UN’s decision, calling India’s “occupation” of Kashmir “state-sponsored terrorism”.
“Indian occupation forces continue to massacre Kashmiris, enjoying judicial immunity … through draconian laws,” a ministry statement said.
“We will continue to provide diplomatic, political and moral support to our Kashmiri brethren.”
But Zahid Hussain, an Islamabad-based security analyst, said: “There is a strong international pressure on Pakistan to take tougher action against the militant organisations involved in cross border terrorist activities.”
“After the UN sanction, Pakistan is required to take more effective action against Masood Azhar including restricting his movement and clampdown on the activities of JeM,” Zahid told Al Jazeera.
A senior leader in Indian-administered Kashmir said that the UN’s decision does not benefit Kashmir.
“Our borders are tense, our highways have been occupied, our children are dying every day and our political space has been squeezed, so it doesn’t have any impact on Kashmir,” Naeem Akhtar, the Peoples Democratic Party leader, told Al Jazeera.
“Unless violence ends in Jammu and [Indian-administered] Kashmir, nothing is going to change,” he said.
About 500,000 Indian security forces are stationed in the disputed Kashmir region, tasked with battling various armed groups. Tens of thousands of people have died in the decades-old conflict.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the Muslim-majority region in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.
Additional reporting by Bilal Kuchay in New Delhi and Shereena Qazi in Doha