NEW DELHI :
British high commissioner to India Dominic Asquith on Friday said he was optimistic Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group’s chief Maulana Masood Azhar would be soon designated a terrorist under UN norms.
Britain was one of the co-sponsors of the proposal, moved by France, to list Azhar as a terrorist under the UN’s 1267 sanctions committee -- that bans individuals and groups associated with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
It came after Azhar’s group -- the JeM -- claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that claimed the lives of 40 Indian security personnel in the Pulwama attack.
But China put a technical hold on the proposal on 14 March stalling the blacklisting of Azhar, seen as at the behest of Pakistan given that Beijing and Islamabad are self proclaimed “all weather friends."
Speaking to reporters, Asquith on Friday said that the proposal to ban Azhar was still under consideration at the UN.
“We are waiting to see whether a country that has so far been resisting agreeing to his (Azhar) listing will lift that objection. I remain optimistic we will get to that conclusion. We have been strong supporters of the listing of Masood Azhar for a decade. Hopefully we will get to that shortly," the British high commissioner told reporters in New Delhi.
While the JeM was declared a terrorist group under UN norms in 2002 after an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001, Azhar was not listed as a terrorist -- with the lapse described as an “oversight" by Indian officials.
Pakistan has denied that Azhar or his group played any role in the 14 February Pulwama attack though a video showing the suicide bomber admitting to being a member of the JeM was released immediately after the attack in Pulwama.
China’s hold on the proposal to designate Azhar a terrorist under UN norms was discussed during a visit to Beijing by Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale this week.
According to people familiar with the matter, India is engaged in discussions with China as well as US,UK, France and Russia on the subject at the UN and other fora. People familiar with the matter have said India is willing to show patience with China on the issue of designating Azhar a terrorist.