Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley jointly addressed a press conference on Thursday where they praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “persistent efforts” behind the designation of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UNSC.
“We would like to highlight the fact that the zero tolerance policy for terrorism by the PM has borne fruit. This is something this government will draw attention of the people of India to,” Sitharaman said at the press conference in New Delhi.
“In every opportunity the PM had during his bilateral meetings and in multilateral fora, (raised) the need to recognise Pakistan as the land where, as per publically available data, has more than 35 declared terror organisations are located.
“Azhar’s name as the leader and mastermind of several attacks has all been recognised. But it is the persistent effort taken by this government under the leadership of PM which has brought this result for us today,” she added.
“The outcome of persistent measures taken by MEA under the leadership of PM and the PM’s own visits have resulted in this,” Sitharaman said.
Addressing the media, Jaitley slammed the opposition parties for their stand on the declaration.
“The whole country is praising the government and the PM. When the country wins, every Indian wins but it is unfortunate that some friends in the opposition think that if they join in this victory they might have to pay a political price for it,” he said.
He also took a jibe at the claims by the opposition that they carried out “invisible surgical strikes” when they were in power.
“When we succeeded after 10 long years, they reacted by saying that there is no big deal. India’s tradition was that all parties were united when it came to the country’s foreign and defence policy but in the last few days have witnessed attempts at breaking this tradition,” he said.
Calling the Congress a “fringe organisation”, Jaitley said that “Congress blackmails institutions and if the institutions do not agree with them they tarnish the institutions”.
He also said that Congress comes out with frivolous complaints and puts unnecessary pressure on Election Commission.
“Model Code of Conduct does not encroach into free speech. It is subject to free speech; both have to exist together harmoniously,” he said.
“How can calling for votes in the name of nationalism violate MCC? Has Article 19-1(A) been deleted from the Constitution? Is MCC a substitute for free speech? The answer is no. The MCC is subject to free speech. It doesn’t shrink free speech,” Jaitley added.
Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar was on Wednesday declared as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee 1267.
The proposal was recently moved by France, UK and the US but was blocked by China.
Beijing lifted its “technical hold” on Wednesday just over a week after Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in China, thus making it a huge diplomatic win for India.
Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said that Azhar’s listing is a significant outcome for India because “we have been at it for several years”.
“The first effort was made in 2009. More recently, we have been persistent, diligent and, in a subterranean manner, making all our efforts towards this goal. Today that goal stands achieved,” he said.
Masood Azhar is the chief of JeM, which carried out a series of terror attacks on India including the 2001 Parliament attack, the January 2016 Pathankot terror attack and the September 2016 Uri terror attack. The most recent attack was the 14 February Pulwama terror attack which killed 40 CRPF personnel.