French ambassador to India Alexander Ziegler

NEW DELHI: France played a fundamental role in the UNSC listing of Masood Azhar, said Alexander Ziegler, the French ambassador to India, said on Friday.

Speaking to journalists, he said, “It’s an important political decision because we have reached a consensus with the members of the Security Council. This is solid proof of the international community’s strong support to India’s fight against terrorism.” Describing the decision as “concrete” he said, it would directly affect JeM’s activities.

France’s goal, he said, has been constant since 2001. “The listing of Masood Azhar is a successful realisation of the diplomatic efforts that France has been conducting for many years, 18 years to be precise.”

It was odd that the JeM was put under sanctions but not its leader. In 2016, after the attack on the Pathankot airbase, France brought up the issue once again, Ziegler said. But the proposal did not go through and JeM attacked the Uri army base in September.

“In 2017, France took it upon itself to propose Masood Azhar’s designation on the Sanctions Committee list. In total, that proposal was submitted three times in New York.”

After Pulwama, Ziegler said, it was felt to be more important to get a statement from the UN Security Council on the attack before restarting the proposal to list Masood Azhar yet again. That statement, which came a week after the attack, for the first time condemned terrorism in Kashmir. “This was clearly a key step to engage all the members of the Security Council and, more broadly, the International community,” Ziegler said.

With China blocking it again, France and the US decided to use other methods. France took the matter to the European Union after putting sanctions on Azhar at the national level. The EU decision, he said, was only days away, but of course it will now be replaced by the UN sanctions. “The fight against terrorism is one of the pillars of our strategic partnership with India.”