CHINA blocked an initiative to tag Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’ by the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday. The Chinese decision has disappointed India and the US, the UK, France and Germany that had backed the proposal. This is the fourth time Beijing has thwarted the move to designate Azhar a global terrorist under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UNSC. China is protecting Pakistan, its staunch ally in South Asia, whose establishment has been training, funding and arming terror groups to cause violence in the territory of India for decades. China used technical ground to withhold sanctions against Azhar for at least six months which can be extended by another three months. The Chinese move would please Pakistani authorities that have been protecting Azhar. China’s blocking is something that must have been celebrated in the camps of Jaish-e-Mohammad. Of course, China is going to lose any credibility about its role in counter-terrorism. It just shows that when it comes to its strategic interests, China is ready to be a partner in indirectly promoting terrorism. The move to tag Azhar as a global terrorist was backed by 13 nations in the UNSC. China is going to lose goodwill of peoples across the world for stonewalling designation of Azhar as a global terrorist.
The move to name Azhar as a global terrorist was initiated after the Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy in which 40 jawans were killed. India launched elaborate diplomatic efforts to gain support for the move. Had China not blocked it, all the assets of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Azhar would have been frozen; there would have been a global travel ban and an arms embargo against them. According to the UN convention, assets freeze under the Sanctions Committee requires that all states freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities. While most countries in the world have been waging war against terror, Pakistan and China have been protecting terror groups, even though they claim to be victims of terrorism. Though JeM was banned by the UN in 2001, its chief has managed to escape sanctions mainly because of China’s backing. The world lost yet another opportunity in containing terror. True, even if Azhar was listed as a global terrorist, not much would have changed on the ground for him. He could have managed to continue his activities with covert if not overt support of Pakistani authorities, as was seen after the 2016 Pathankot air base attack. Azhar could have changed the name of his organisation and put proxies in the front. But UNSC designation would have put curbs on his activities.
With the move blocked by China, India has to take the battle to the world stage. India has to use data and resources to convince the world that Pakistan is real source of terror and a safe haven for terrorists. India can use the Consolidated List of the UN Sanctions Committee which contains the names of 262 individuals and 82 entities seeking action against Pakistan and isolating it. The list has more than 100 individuals or entities from Pakistan who are Pakistani nationals or non-Pakistani residents in Pakistan or groups based in that country. India now has the US, the UK, Germany, France and other nations that are supportive of strong counter-terror measures in Pakistan. If India consistently works towards isolating Pakistan it would be a matter of time before China is forced to join the world in fighting terror groups based in Pakistan.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, it will not cease using terror groups to cause violence and bloodshed in India. The recent statements by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan were just aimed to create a misleading impression that Islamabad was for fighting terror groups together with India and other nations. Whatever support terror groups got in Pakistan in the past, Khan said, they would no more get any support. However, the blocking of Azhar’s designation as a global terrorist by China has just proven Imran Khan wrong, as without a strong appeal from Pakistan, China would not have gone against the rest of the world to protect Masood Azhar. China’s blocking has shown that Beijing’s strategic position remains hostile to India, despite the great diplomatic warmth evoked during the exchanges of visits of the leaders of the two countries. While mobilising the global opinion to turn against Pakistan as a safe haven for terrorists, India should also campaign against Chinese protection to it, so Beijing is shamed one day to stop blocking moves against global terrorists.