France freezes assets of Pakistan-based militant leader who nearly sparked war with India

France freezes assets of Pakistan-based militant leader who nearly sparked war with India
France has frozen the assets of JeM's leader and is considering putting him on a European Union terrorism suspect list. The group was behind the deadly February attack in Kashmir.
2 min read
15 March, 2019
Banners of JeM chief Masood Azhar at a protest in India [NurPhoto/Getty]

France has decided to freeze the assets of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) founder and leader, Masood Azhar, the French government said on Friday.

A joint statement issued by the French interior ministry, finance ministry and foreign ministry stated that France would consider adding Azhar to a European Union terrorism suspect list, Reuters reported.

Jaish-e-Mohammed entered the spotlight after it claimed responsibility for the deadly 14 February attack in Indian-administered Kashmir, when a suicide bomb attack killed 40 Indian paramilitary police.

Pakistan is under pressure from its neighbour India and the international community to act against JeM and other such groups.

India, at the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, tried to designate Azhar as a terrorist but was blocked by China.

Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Raveesh Kumar has accused Pakistan of failing to take any credible action against Jaish-e-Mohammed and other terrorist organisations, which he said continued to operate with impunity from Pakistan.

"The widespread presence of terrorist camps in Pakistan is public knowledge within and outside Pakistan," he said.

Pakistan says it has arrested 44 people, including the brother of JeM chief Azhar who was apparently named in a dossier given to Islamabad by New Delhi.

It also says it shut a number of facilities and froze assets of several outlawed organisations.

Pakistan's information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, has said his country was acting against the banned militant outfits and would not allow anyone to "use Pakistani land for terrorism against any country".

Although tensions have now eased, the two nuclear-armed nations were embroiled in an escalating conflict weeks earlier.

It reached its height when India launched a retaliatory air raid inside Pakistan after the February 14 attack.

Islamabad responded by shooting down two Indian warplanes and capturing a pilot.

Tensions eased after Pakistan returned the pilot to India as a peace gesture.

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