Updated: September 4, 2020 4:32:30 am
On Wednesday, five permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, UK, France, Germany, and Belgium — blocked an attempt by Pakistan to list two Indians under a UN Security Council regime targeting international terrorism.
Late in the evening India time, T S Tirumurti, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, posted on Twitter: “Pakistan’s blatant attempt to politicize 1267 special procedure on terrorism by giving it a religious colour, has been thwarted by UN Security Council. We thank all those Council members who have blocked Pakistan’s designs.”
How did the matter come up before the UNSC’s 1267 sanctions sub-committee?
Pakistan has been trying for a year now to get four Indians, who had been working in Afghanistan, sanctioned under the UN’s 1267 regime. It moved separate proposals against them between September and November 2019, an extraordinarily bad year for India-Pakistan relations over three main issues: the Pulwama terrorist attack, the Balakot airstrikes and their aftermath; the designation, at long last, of Jaish-e-Muhammad leader Masood Azhar; and India’s decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and split the erstwhile state into two Union Territories.
Wednesday was the third time this year that Pakistan’s efforts have been thwarted.
On June 24, the US objected to a proposal by Pakistan to list one of the four Indians under 1267. The Pakistan Foreign Office then said it was “disappointed”, and hoped its request for listing the other three Indians would be given “due consideration” in an “objective and transparent manner”. And on July 16, there was a second block on a Pakistani proposal to list another one of the Indians.
But why did Pakistan want to get these Indians sanctioned by the UN?
The 1267 Committee was first set up in 1999, and strengthened by a series of resolutions in the months and years after the September 11, 2001 attacks. It is now known as the Da’esh and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.
Islamabad has for years accused India of fomenting terrorism inside Pakistan through Afghanistan, an allegation India rejects. Pakistan attempted to drive home its point to the international community after it captured, in March 2016, the retired Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav and, a year later, sentenced him to death on charges of “espionage and terrorism”. India, however, won a legal and diplomatic victory at the International Court of Justice in July 2019.
The 1267 list of terrorists is a global list, with a UNSC stamp. It is full of Pakistani nationals and residents, and Pakistan would like to get a few Indians on it as well.
Who are the four Indians that Pakistan had targeted?
On September 2, Pakistan tried to get on the sanctions list Appaji Angara and Gobinda Patnaik Duggivasala.
# Duggivalasa was working for an IT consulting company in Kabul. He left Afghanistan in November 2019, just before Pakistan filed its proposal for listing him.
Pakistan has alleged Duggivalasa’s involvement in the July 2018 bomb attack on an election rally in Mastung in Balochistan, in which 148 people were killed, including the candidate of the pro-Pakistan Army Balochistan Awami Party, Siraj Raisani. It was the biggest attack in Balochistan in several years, and was claimed by the Islamic State. Mastung, some 20 km from Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, is a hub of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which announced its affiliation with the IS in 2017.
# Appaji Angara is a software engineer who, too, was working in Kabul. He returned to India in October 2019, a month before Pakistan put up a proposal for his designation.
Pakistan has accused Angara of being involved in the 2014 Army Public School massacre in Peshawar, in which 150 students were killed. The attack was pinned on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistan has tried to link the Pakistani Taliban to India from the time they came into existence in 2007.
Pakistan has also alleged Angara’s involvement in a 2016 attack on a Christian colony at Warsak, Peshawar, which was claimed by Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of the TTP.
# Venumadhav Dongara’s attempted designation was blocked by the US in June. He is an engineer who was working in Afghanistan for KEC International Limited, a Mumbai-based infrastructure company of the RPG Group.
An FIR was filed against him in Peshawar in March 2019 for allegedly supplying explosives, weapons and ammunition for the 2015 attack on the Badaber airbase of the Pakistan Air Force. Twenty-nine security forces were killed in the attack, which began in the early hours of September 18, 2015. The Pakistan Army had hinted at India’s involvement, and said the attack had been planned in Afghanistan. “The attackers came from Afghanistan and the whole foul play was planned in the neighbouring country. This attack was being executed through direct coordination from Afghanistan as well,” then military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa had said. A faction of the TTP claimed the attack, which came during the Pakistan Army’s Zarb-e-Azb operation against the group.
Dongara left Afghanistan in September 2019, apparently “extricated” by Indian agencies who feared he would be kidnapped and handed over to the Pakistanis.
# Ajoy Mistry is the fourth Indian on Pakistan’s wishlist. He worked as a cook at a US Army base in Afghanistan from 2012 onwards, after stints in Iraq and the UAE.
Pakistan accuses him of links with the IS. He too, returned to India in October 2019. The proposal to list him was blocked on July 16.
What is the process by which people are listed under UNSC 1267?
Any member state can submit a proposal for listing an individual, group, or entity. The 1267 Committee, which comprises all permanent and non-permanent members of the UNSC, meets as required with a notice of four working days. Decisions on listing and de-listing are adopted by consensus. Any proposal for listing must meet set criteria. The proposal must include acts or activities indicating the proposed individual/group/entity had participated “in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” linked to “ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida or any cell, affiliate, splinter group or derivative thereof”.
Under the Committee’s guidelines, the “detailed statement of case in support of the proposed listing” should provide “as much detail as possible on the basis(es) or justification for the listing”, including specific findings and supporting evidence.
The proposal is sent to all the members, and if no member objects within five working days, the proposal is adopted. An “objection” means curtains for the proposal.
Any member of the Committee may also put a “technical hold” on the proposal, and ask for more information from the proposing member state. During this time, other members may also place their own holds.
The matter remains on the “pending” list of the Committee until such time as the member state that has placed the hold decides to turn its decision into an “objection”, or until all those who have placed holds remove them within a timeframe laid down by the Committee.
Pending issues must be resolved in six months, but the member state that has placed the hold may ask for an additional three months. At the end of this period, if an objection is not placed, the matter is considered approved.
There was a technical hold on Venumadhav Dongara’s proposed listing last year, which the US objected to this year, effectively blocking the proposal. There were holds on the proposal about Ajoy Mistry as well, which was blocked in July due to objections by the US, UK, France, Germany, and Belgium. These same countries had placed a technical hold on the proposed listing of Duggivasala and Appaji as well, and blocked it on Wednesday.
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