Masood Azhar listed as Global Terrorist

The United Nations Security Council has designated JeM Chief, Masood Azhar as a global terrorist after China lifted its technical hold on his listing under the UNSC 1267 sanctions committee. In 2009, India moved a proposal by itself to designate Azhar as a global terrorist. In 2016 again India moved the proposal with the P3 – the United States, the United Kingdom and France in the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee to ban Azhar, also the mastermind of the attack on the air base in Pathankot in January, 2016. In 2017, the P3 nations moved a similar proposal again. However, on all occasions China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, blocked India’s proposal from being adopted by the Sanctions Committee. Thus, this event is a huge diplomatic win for India.

What is the UN terrorist designation?

  • The UNSC 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council was established as a result of resolution 1267 (in 1999).
  1. It is also known as the AlQaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee.
  • The Committee comprises all 15 members of the UNSC and decides unanimously and secretly.
  1. It was established for the purpose of overseeing the implementation of sanctions measures imposed on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan for its support of Osama bin Laden.
  • Eventually the committee has been modified and strengthened by subsequent resolutions.
  • Now, if an individual/organisation is included in the 1267 list, it helps in restricting their movement, financial penalties and assets freeze among others.

Reasons for Listing

There are four fault lines that are ready to blow themselves up on the terror chessboard of international relations.

  1. China: Wolf Wearing A Trader’s Skin

Let us be clear — China is not fighting terrorism; it is supporting terrorism; it is using terrorism. Humiliating India as a strategy, Pakistan as a battlefield, and ‘technical hold’ as a tool, China has prevented the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) from designating Azhar as a terrorist, against all evidence and global opinion, including the other four members of the UNSC, the US, the UK, France and Russia. Using its veto, China has blocked Azhar’s designation four times, in 2009, 2016, 2017 and 2019. For an aspiring regional power to behave in such an irresponsible manner is more a commentary on how China is abusing its veto power in the UNSC than on its rivalry with India.

  • Pakistan: On The Edge Of Civilised Behaviour

Nobody knows whose word to take seriously in Pakistan — Imran Khan, head of the army-supported, illegitimately-elected government; its Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa, the de facto head of Pakistan; or the terrorists wearing the garb of freedom fighters. A swiftly-failing state that is not merely trying to take the world and its people for a ride but is delusional and believing its own spins, Pakistan is claiming a victory even in this shame

  • US, UK And France: Friends With Benefits

In a world crafted by the West, there is little space for principles; this world functions on the marketplace of interests. Given this reality — unlike the Indian dharmic tradition of righteousness and morality — it is good to see how India has retraced its principles-based approach to international relations and got real. Defence ties, the diaspora, investment and trade opportunities, and cultural exchanges notwithstanding, this trio will demand its pound of fles

  • United Nations: A Failing Superstructure That Needs To Reinvent Itself

That something as crucial to the world as terror and its state sponsors can be smothered under the personal interests of and the veto power executed by one nation, China, shows that the international body to oversee transnational matters is failing. The UNSC may have had a reason for existence when it was formed in 1945 as a body to take action on major issues of the world, including peace and security. If terrorism that affects countries across the world, the last being Sri Lanka — China is shielded for now but while terror has no geography, it does have a religion and will definitely enter China’s Xinjiang region, where 1 million Uighur Muslims are being detained — are being so crudely neglected and cynically used, this structure is tearing at the seams. 

What happens when the committee designates someone as a global terrorist?

  1. Asset freeze: All member states of the United Nations are required to freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities. 

  • Travel ban: All member states are required to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories by designated individuals.
  1. Arms embargo: All member states are required to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, spare parts, and technical advice, assistance, or training related to military activities, to designated individuals and entities. 

India’s concerns?

  • There is much disappointment, however, as the final listing made no mention of Mr. Azhar’s role in any of the attacks against India.
  1. It neither mentioned his role in directing insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
  1. A specific reference to Pulwama attack, which was in the original proposal, was also dropped

Implications for Pakistan:


Azhar’s designation as a global terrorist will force Pakistan to act against him and individuals and entities associated with him. This will effectively mean total immobilisation of Azhar and shutdown of his organisation and its institutions such as terror camps and madrasas. 

Way Forward

  • Constant focus from New Delhi and a push from the global community are essential in Masood Azhar’s case.
  1. It must be ensured that he is starved of funds, arms and ammunition as mandated.
  • Besides, prosecution in Pakistan for the acts of terror he is responsible for is also a priority.
  • Global terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force will also be watching Pakistan’s next moves closely.
  • FATF will decide soon if Pakistan has to be placed in “blacklist” or continue on the “greylist”.
  1. In all, both financial and political pressure should be maintained on Islamabad.
  • This is imperative to bring the hard-fought designation of Masood Azhar to its logical conclusion.