In the first step towards a pan-Europe sanctioning of Jaish-e-Mohamed chief Masood Azhar, France on Friday decided to list him at the national level by freezing his assets in the application of the Monetary and Financial Code.
In other words, no funds from and to Masood can go through France, said an embassy spokesperson here. A joint decree of the Ministries of the Interior, and Economy and Finance published the ban on Masood in the Official Gazette.
As the first European Union country to sanction Masood, Paris is now pushing for a European ban. In conjunction with India, it will be nudging individual countries to put national bans on the JeM chief. It hopes the number of countries sanctioning Masood will gather enough critical mass to persuade the EU to impose a ban.
An unnamed Indian diplomat had on Thursday said that India was exploring other diplomatic options after China stalled a move backed at the UN Security Council by France, the US and the UK to list Masood Azhar as an international terrorist.
“We will raise this issue with our European partners with a view to including Masood Azhar on the European Union list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts, based on this decree,” said a French Foreign Office statement.
Regional bans on Masood Azhar are expected to embarrass China that had argued that it had put a technical hold on his naming because it needed time to examine the material on record and had instead suggested that the issue of terrorism be tackled at the regional level.
“France has always been and always will be by India’s side in the fight against terrorism,” added the Foreign Office statement. France is a steady partner in the defence sector and is in the race for orders for military aviation and submarines worth $20 billion.
French-origin submarines from an earlier order are being gradually inducted in the Indian Navy and a tender for 36 Rafale fighter planes is in the pipeline. Besides, France has been awarded the right to set up six nuclear plants worth over $20 billion but the project has been stymied on issues relating to land acquisition, cost-effectiveness and reliability of the type of plant on offer to India.