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UN Acts Against Pakistani Group

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An Indian army soldier stands guard during a curfew in Jammu on February 18, 2019. - Indian authorities withdrew police protection for five separatist leaders in Kashmir on February 17 amid mounting fallout from a suicide bombing that killed 41 soldiers in the disputed region. New Delhi has vowed to retaliate after a van packed with explosives ripped through a convoy transporting 2,500 soldiers across the Indian-administered territory on February 14, the deadliest-ever attack in a 30-year-old armed conflict. (Photo by Rakesh BAKSHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read RAKESH BAKSHI/AFP/Getty Images) 

The United Nations has acted to designate Masood Azhar, leader of the armed Pakistani group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), a “global terrorist” because of his ties to al-Qaeda.

JeM claimed responsibility for the February 14th attack in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops. Azhar now faces an assets freeze, a global travel ban and an arms embargo. His designation by the UN was previously blocked by China on four occasions.

Masood Azhar was released from prison in 1999 in exchange for 155 hostages from a hijacked Indian Airlines flight. In 2000 he founded JeM, which was put on the UN “terrorist” list in 2001.

This year the Indian air force struck a JeM camp inside Pakistan, its first military strike inside Pakistan since 1971. Pakistan has responded by labeling India’s “occupation” of Kashmir “state-sponsored terrorism” and there have been retaliatory air raids by both sides.

Kashmir is a huge potential flashpoint and a cause for global alarm. Half a million Indian troops are stationed in the disputed territory to confront various armed groups. Both countries have claimed sovereignty over Kashmir since British colonial rule ended in 1947. Two major wars have been fought due to the dispute.

You can read the UN Security Council’s official summary of the reasons for Azhar’s designation here.