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China's move to block ban against Azhar came just before deadline

The Chinese intervention to stop Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar from being put on the UN list of proscribed terrorists came just hours before the UN 1267 Taliban/al-Qaeda sanction committee’s deadline was due to expire, The Hindu has learnt. Under the rules, the Committee is bound not to divulge the details of which country has blocked the proposal. However, UN sources have confirmed that it was China that raised objections to it.

“The case against Masood Azhar for proscription under the Taliban/al-Qaeda committee was so strong that the U.S., U.K., and France had even decided to co-sponsor the request,” a senior diplomat told The Hindu, adding that according to procedure if none of the ten countries on the committee (Members of the security council) issued any objection, it would have gone through. “Just about 2-3 hours before the deadline to reply would run out, a bland two-line communication was received from the Chinese Permanent Mission at the UN referencing the document, saying they would like to place a technical hold,” the official said.

In Washington, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup put out a strong condemnation of the development, calling on the UN 1267 regime against Taliban and al-Qaeda entities, named after the UN resolution passed in 1989 against the groups, to “protect all member states and their citizens from the activities of terror groups like JeM and its leader Azhar.”

“Its working methods, based on the principles of unanimity and anonymity, is leading the Committee to adopt a selective approach to combating terrorism. This does not reflect well on the determination that the international community needs to display to decisively defeat the menace of terrorism,” the MEA statement added.

MEA officials in Beijing, Delhi and New York confirmed that the move had been discussed for several weeks, and India had been in touch with the Chinese government as well as other Security council members to make the case to ban Masood Azhar after the Pathankot airbase attack of January 2nd.

Sources tell The Hindu the case consisted of three arguments: firstly that Masood Azhar is the leader of the JeM associated with the Taliban that had been banned in 2001. Secondly, that India believes the JeM and Masood Azhar are responsible for the Pathankot attack and continuing terror activities, and that the acknowledgement of Azhar’s involvement had come from the Pakistani government when it took him into custody.

India had specifically made a mention of Pakistan Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz’s visit to Washington in February 2016, where in his joint statement with US Secretary of State John Kerry, a mention was made of the action against the JeM and that Masood Azhar had been taken into “protective custody” for their involvement in the airforce base attack, to bolster its case.

When asked about China’s decision, the Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hong Lei said that it was “on the basis of facts and in accordance with UNSC resolutions and relevant rules of procedure,” and even called on all parties to “enhance communication and coordination to combat terrorism as one”. In particular, the MFA’s description of “double standards on the counter-terrorism issue”, are indicative that China intends a much more strong defence of Pakistan at the UN committee.

However, officials point out that this is the fourth time China has blocked India’s moves to proscribe Masood Azhar and other’s at the UN 1267 committee since September 2014. Previous attempts to ban Masood Azhar, United Jehad Council chief Syed Salahuddin, and a move for action against Pakistan for contravening the 1267 rules when LeT commander, and 26/11 accused Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi was granted bail in 2015.

In December 2014, India had also issued several letters both to the UN and to the Pakistani government asking how LeT and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, who is on the 1267 list, was able to fund massive rallies in Lahore and Karachi.

On each occasion, say officials, China has placed a “technical hold” on the decisions, or intervened to ensure the proposals have not been taken up.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 12:50:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Chinas-move-to-block-ban-against-Azhar-came-just-before-deadline/article14215314.ece

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