US, UK, France asks UN sactions on hiding terrorist Masood Azhar in Pak


(Online Desk)

United Kingdom, France and the United States on Wednesday asked the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on the leader of a Pakistan based Islamist group that claimed a suicide attack in Kashmir, diplomats said.

It was the third attempt to put Masood Azhar, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), on the UN terror blacklist, which would subject him to a global travel ban and assets freeze.

China has twice blocked — in 2016 and 2017 — attempts to impose sanctions on the JeM leader. The group itself was added to the terror list in 2001. Diplomats said they expected China to again raise objections.

The council has 10 days to consider the request from the three countries. Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian security personnel.

India said on Tuesday its air force conducted strikes on a JeM militant camp inside Pakistan — the first time since 1971 it hit territory beyond divided Kashmir.

Islamabad, while denying the Indian strike caused any major damage or casualties, quickly vowed to retaliate, fueling fears of a disastrous confrontation in South Asia.

Islamabad on Wednesday said it downed two Indian jets in its airspace and captured two pilots, but later its military spokesman tweeted that there was “only one pilot” in Pakistani custody.

New Delhi confirmed the loss of one of its planes and said it had shot down a Pakistani fighter jet.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for de-escalation and offered to help India and Pakistan open talks on the crisis. Guterres spoke by phone Tuesday with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who has appealed for the United Nations to intervene.

The UN chief has been in talks with both sides, urging them “to urgently take steps to lower tensions through meaningful, mutual engagement and meet their responsibilities to maintain peace and security in the region,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.