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Government faces Pulwama question on Masood Azhar terrorist tag

MEA spokesperson rubbishes all talk about Pulwama and J&K, saying it was a Pakistan ploy to divert attention from the setback it had suffered

By The Telegraph in New Delhi
  • Published 2.05.19, 6:41 PM
  • Updated 2.05.19, 10:48 PM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Masood Azhar in Karachi on January 22, 2000. AP picture

The external affairs ministry today attempted to address the prickly question of whether Masood Azhar's global terrorist tag was made possible by keeping Pulwama and Jammu and Kashmir out of the picture at a time the government has got a shot in the arm from the development. 

Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the tag on Azhar was "not based on a specific incident but on the basis of evidence". 

Journalists at an afternoon media conference repeatedly wanted to know from the spokesperson if India had compromised on including Pulwama and other acts of terror in Jammu and Kashmir by the Jaish-e-Mohammad that Azhar leads. Kumar replied that India would never go into any understanding with any side on tackling terror.

When a journalist asked why India had gone unmentioned in the UN notification if it had done the diplomatic heavy lifting, the spokesperson said: "I can tell you that the terror attack in Pulwama did play a role in coming to the decision, and I don't think there is anything further to add to this."

Kumar made it clear at the outset that the government's objective was "the designation of Masood Azhar as a terrorist" and he said twice in the course of the exchange that "the (UN) notification is not supposed to be the bio-data of a terrorist. It is not supposed to list all the terror acts committed by an individual." 

He said: "The designation is not based on a specific incident but on the basis of evidence, which we have shared with the 1267 Sanctions Committee linking Masood Azhar to several acts of terrorism."

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had yesterday asked how the sacrifice of the Pulwama CRPF jawans was forgotten so easily. "No mention of terror in Kashmir & no mention of Pulwama. It’s amazing how quickly the sacrifices of the CRPF men were sold down the river to get a symbolic win," he tweeted.

Kumar today called such talk an attempt by Pakistan to "divert the attention" from the "huge diplomatic setback" that Islamabad has suffered.

He said: "Frankly they have no choice. They can't welcome the decision, they can't criticise the decision. In both cases there will be criticism at home for them. So the only option for them is to pick out some holes.... As far as we are concerned, these are all irrelevant details."

The spokesperson was also asked what such a terror tag meant for India. The journalist who raised the question gave the example of Hafiz Saeed, also listed as a global terrorist a decade ago but who seems to enjoy Pakistani protection. To this, Kumar said the terrorist tag meant an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo that all UN member states are required to enforce without delay.