The French government on Friday announced that it will freeze the assets of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, two days after China blocked a bid in the United Nations Security Council to designate him as a global terrorist.
“France has decided to sanction Masood Azhar at the national level by freezing his assets in application of the Monetary and Financial Code,” said a joint statement by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Ministry of the Interior.
“France has always been and always will be by India’s side in the fight against terrorism,” said the statement. “We will raise this issue with our European partners with a view to including Masood Azhar on the European Union list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts, based on this decree.”
The Indian government welcomed France’s decision to impose financial sanctions on Azhar. “We welcome the decision taken by France to sanction Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistan-based and UN proscribed terrorist organisation; and responsible for the Pulwama terrorist attack,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.
Along with the United States and the United Kingdom, France on February 27 had moved a proposal in the UN Security Council to designate the Pakistan-based Azhar as a global terrorist. The move came weeks after the Pulwama suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir, in which 40 security personnel were killed. The Jaish-e-Mohammad had claimed responsibility for the attack.
However, the attempt was thwarted by China, which put a technical hold on the proposal. China is a permanent member of the Security Council. It had previously prevented the Security Council’s Islamic State and al Qaeda sanctions committee from sanctioning Azhar in 2016 and 2017.