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Updated: November 19, 2011 12:34 IST

China’s ‘hold’ stopped designation of LeT, Jaish leaders

Mukund Padmanabhan
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A 2000 photograph of Maulana Masood Azhar, leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed and one of those released in 1999 by the Indian government following a plane hijack.
AP A 2000 photograph of Maulana Masood Azhar, leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed and one of those released in 1999 by the Indian government following a plane hijack.

Why did China place a “technical hold” on an Indian request to impose sanctions of three high-ranking Pakistan-based operatives of the Laskhar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed?

A confidential cable (221726) dated August 21, 2009 sent by the American Embassy in Beijing to Washington quotes a Chinese Foreign Ministry official as saying this was because India had failed to provide sufficient information to merit such action.

The U.S. State Department was of the view that China's hold on listing the three terrorists was done at the behest of Pakistan.

Listing of suspected terrorists and terrorist organisations under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 obliges countries to impose sanctions against them. And China, which wields a veto in the UNSC, is empowered to block listings.

Chinese Foreign Ministry official, Shen Yinyin, Deputy Director of the United Nations Affairs Division, told a U.S. Embassy official that Beijing would not lift its hold on the listing of Abdul Rahman Makki, Azham Cheema and Mohammad Masood Azhar Alvi in the absence of adequate information. The cable quotes him as adding that Beijing “is very serious” about its commitment to the UNSC Resolution 1267.

Abdul Rahman Makki is the LeT/Jud leader Hafiz Saeed's brother-in-law and is considered the number two man in the organisation.

He heads the LeT/Jud political affairs department and is a fund raiser. His name was listed in the diary of David Headley, the main prosecution witness in the 26/11 trial in a U.S. federal court in Chicago.

Azam Cheema was the LeT intelligence chief and a key advisor of its senior leader Zaki-ur-Rahman. He is seen as the mastermind behind the July 2007 Mumbai train bombings.

Mohammad Masood Azhar Alvi is the founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammed and one of those released in 1999 by the Indian government in exchange for passengers on the hijacked Indian Airlines flight 814.

Both the LeT and the JeM are listed as terrorist outfits under the UNSCR 1267.

Mr. Shen explained that Chinese officials had approached the Indian government for more information on the cases soon after placing the technical hold. However, he said the Indian government had maintained that the information it had presented was sufficient to justify their listing.

Another confidential cable (244326) dated January 20, 2010 sent by the American Embassy in Beijing makes note about additional information provided to China in October 2009 about these three individuals and the United States' intention of placing this information before the UNSC 1267 Committee.

It says a political officer of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing requested Mr. Shen to see that China does not place a new technical hold on listing the three terrorists. The Chinese official is said to have acknowledged that China had not “provided a definitive response to the additional information provided” and promised to do so as soon as possible.

Designated before Obama visit

The U.S. Treasury designated the three individuals in November 2010, ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to India.

The U.S. State Department viewed China as acting at the behest of Pakistan in holding the designations. A confidential cable (242073) dated December 30, 2009 sent in the name of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had alleged that “on the international stage, Pakistan has sought to block the UNSCR 1267 listings of Pakistan-based or affiliated terrorists by requesting that China places a hold on the nominations.”

The cable, the contents of which were published in The Hindu recently (‘State Department cable cited ISI links with militants,' dated May 31, 2011), notes that China did not block the most recent Pakistan-related terrorist nomination made by the U.S.

One cable (213853: confidential) dated June 25, 2009 records the U.S. appreciation for Chinese support for the designation of Arif Qasmani, Muhammad Yahya Mujahid, and Fazeel-a-Tul Shaykh Abu Muhammad Ameen al-Peshawari to the UNSC 1267 Committee. The first two were LeT operatives with links to al-Qaeda and the third was said to provide assistance and funding to both the Taliban and al-Qaeda networks.

Also, China supported the December 2008 designation of JuD, Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and two others, days after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

The Pakistan Cables are being shared by The Hindu with NDTV in India and Dawn in Pakistan.

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