United Nations: France is working on a proposal to ban Masood Azhar, the chief of the UN-proscribed Jaish-e Mohammed (JeM), after it assumes the Presidency of the UN Security Council in March, sources said. (Catch LIVE Updates of India-Pakistan Standoff Here)

The monthly Presidency of the 15-nation UN Security Council (UNSC) rotates and will go from Equatorial Guinea to France on March 1.

France, a permanent member of the Council with veto powers, is working on the proposal (to ban Masood Azhar) and it should be ready soon, sources said to PTI. They added that the proposal could be moved in the Sanctions Committee under the French presidency.

“France is focused on bringing individual listing requests of JeM terrorists to the 1267 Sanctions Committee soon,” a source said.

The Pakistan-based JeM claimed the responsibility of the suicide attack in Pulwama district on February 14 in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed and many injured.

Following the incident, India conducted a pre-emptive air strike and destroyed JeM’s biggest training camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 80-km from the LoC early on Tuesday, killing a “very large number” of terrorists.

France’s proposal, when moved, will be the fourth such bid at the UN in the last ten years to list Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

In 2009, India had moved such a proposal by itself. This was followed in 2016 when India moved the proposal with the United States, the United Kingdom and France in the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee to ban Masood Azhar.

In 2017, the P3 nations (US, UK, France) moved a similar proposal again. However, on all occasions, China blocked the proposal from being adopted by the Sanctions Committee.

It remains to be seen how China will vote on the proposal this time, following a crucial bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Wuzhen, where she is participating in the Russia, India, China (RIC) Foreign Ministers meeting.

Swaraj has already raised the Pulwama suicide attack in her meeting with her Chinese counterpart.

Stating that the JeM is banned by the UN and other countries, Swaraj told Wang that “this terrorist attack is the direct result of the impunity and cover provided to the JeM and its leaders by the Pakistani side”.

“After the Pulwama attack the entire UN has spoken in a full voice to condemn it,” she said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his “urgent appeal to both the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan to exercise maximum restraint to ensure that the situation does not further deteriorate.