NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON: China yet again put on hold a proposal at the UN for a ban on Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, bringing to a halt a renewed push by France, US and UK to blacklist the Pakistan-based terrorist after the Pulwama attack.
China has thrice earlier put the same proposal on a ‘technical hold’ before finally terminating the proposal. The hold can last up to a maximum of nine months, after which China can again use its veto power to formally block, or terminate, the proposal.
The Indian government said it was disappointed by the outcome. “This has prevented action by the international community to designate the leader of Jaish-e-Muhammed, a proscribed and active terrorist organization which has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in J&K on February 14, 2019,” it said in a statement.
“The ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qaida sanctions committee (1267 Sanctions Committee), upon completion of the no-objection period on March 13, 2019, was not able to come to a decision on the proposal for listing Mohammed Masood Azhar Alvi under the UN Sanctions regime, on account of a member placing the proposal on hold,” it added.
The government said it was grateful for the efforts of the member states who moved the designation proposal. “We will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice,” it said. But behind vague inanities was the hard realism of standing by Pakistan, an ally that has attracted global opprobrium for hosting terrorists, many of whom could pose a threat to Chinese economic interests in Pakistan should Beijing agree to lift its objection to designating them as global terrorists. In effect, China is seen as buying protection for its investments in Pakistan even at the risk of global shaming.
China was the only UNSC member to object to the proposal. India said it was grateful to Member States who moved the proposal and the unprecedented number of UNSC members as well as non-members who joined as co-sponsors. “We will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice,” it said.
China had in the past blocked the same proposal in 2011, 2016 and again in 2017. Government sources here said the latest ‘hold’ was another sign of China’s “double standards” on terrorism.
This was the first time that the proposal for a UN ban on Azhar came within weeks of a major terror strike. China’s decision on this occasion will rankle with India a lot more as it comes within a year of the Xi-Modi summit in Wuhan which was said to have taken the bilateral relationship to another level altogether. Both countries had cited the “Wuhan spirit” to repeatedly claim that ties had been completely transformed since the Doklam standoff. Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui said last year that the relationship was passing through one of the best phases in history.