New Delhi/Islamabad: In order to de-escalate tensions with India, in the aftermath of Pulwama attack and India’s ‘pre-emptive’ response, the Pakistan government has reportedly decided to crack down on terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.

In addition, top sources say that Islamabad may even withdraw its opposition to brand Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in the UNSC (United Nations Security Council).

“The government has decided in principle to launch crackdown on the leadership of the JeM (Azhar),” the source told news agency PTI.  He said the action against JeM in the country is “expected any time soon”.

Read: Masood Azhar’s Death: Intelligence Agencies Trying to Ascertain Reports; JeM, Pak Media Claim ‘Terrorist Alive’

“This will be another significant move of the Imran Khan government to de-escalate tensions after handing over the captured Indian pilot to his country,” he said.

To a question about the Azhar’s fate, the official source said he cannot confirm whether he would be put under house-arrest or taken into custody. “The state has to decide whether individual is important or the larger national interest of the country,” the official was quoted as saying in the Express Tribune, when asked if Pakistan would no more oppose the UNSC action against Azhar.

This comes in tow of mounting global pressure on the Imran Khan government to not only take cognizance of the terror buds thriving in the country but take punitive actions against its perpetrators. The US, the UK and France last week moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Pakistan-based JeM chief Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject him to global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.

The Security Council Sanctions Committee will consider within 10 days on the fresh proposal moved by the three permanent veto-wielding members of the 15-nation Security Council.

MASOOD AZHAR AND UNSC

The proposal is the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.
In 2009, India moved a proposal to designate Azhar, whose UN-proscribed JeM claimed responsibility for the suicide attack against Indian security forces in Pulwama on February 14 in which over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed.

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.

When contacted Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said, “The government has taken action against the proscribed organisations including JeM in the past and any future action against them will be taken in the light of the National Action Plan (NAP) and our commitments in connection with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and not on Indian pressure,” he said.

Asked will the government take action against the JeM any time soon, the minister didn’t rule it out, saying “any action against the proscribed organisations will be taken according to NAP.”
He said the Punjab government has taken the control of a seminary and a mosque in Bahawalpur as per the NAP requirements.