Despite commitments on fighting terror in the joint statement between India and China during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Beijing, officials say they are “concerned” over a series of moves by the Chinese government to stall India’s proposals at the United Nations.
Since December 2014, India’s Permanent Mission to the UN has filed at least three separate proposals on Pakistan-based terrorists, each of which has been reportedly delayed or stopped by China at the United Nations Security Council sanctions committee on Al-Qaida and associated entities. “We are concerned about China’s persistent opposition to our terror proposals,” a government official said.
Official sources also confirmed to The Hindu that China has put a “technical hold” on India’s request to list Hizbul Mujahideen chief and head of the ‘United Jihad Council’, Syed Salahuddin. The “technical hold” amounts to a veto on going ahead with the listing process for at least three months, as the UN Committee on al-Qaeda and associated entities, (also called the ‘1267 Committee’ for the UN Security Council resolution of 1999 that banned Al-Qaida and Taliban leaders), as the committee can only decide by “consensus”. All 1267 committee meetings are “closed-door sessions” between the 15 Security Council members, so officials depend on other diplomats to tell them which country opposes and supports a proposal.
Sources said the hold was put on Salahuddin’s listing during a meeting of the committee in April this year, but even the discussion on India’s proposal had been delayed for months after the original request was made in September last year. During that time, the 1267 committee met more than 15 times, and agreed to add about 30 new names to the sanctioned list. The listing means all member States must cut off the entity’s finances, travel and access to arms.
The request is a part of an Indian government initiative for years against Salahuddin, who is wanted for several Hizbul Mujahideen attacks. The United Jihad Council that he heads includes the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. In 2008, just two weeks after the Mumbai terror attacks, Salahuddin was photographed praying along with 26/11 key accused Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi. The Indian request to list him came after a public speech by Salahuddin in Muzaffarabad in July 2014, where he called on al-Qaeda and Taliban cadres “to fight Indian security forces in Kashmir”. Diplomats said they are puzzled by China’s move in the case as it has asked for more proof of Salahuddin’s links with the Al-Qaida. “Why should China have any opinion in the Salahuddin case, if it isn’t to help Pakistan,” one official asked, while speaking to The Hindu.
While Chinese officials seldom speak directly on the issue, the Chinese government has long maintained its close ties with Pakistan and coordination at the UN. In an interview last September, Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng had told an agency, “Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism… China, India and Pakistan ought to work together to deal with the problem of terrorism and root out the cause of terrorism.”
Meanwhile, Salahuddin’s case is not the only one in which Indian proposals have faced resistance from China, sources said. In December 2014, India had issued several letters both to the UN and to the Pakistani government asking how LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, who is on the 1267 list, was able to fund massive rallies in Lahore and Karachi. Most recently, last month, India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Mukerji had written a letter to the then Chairman of the Committee James McLay (since replaced), asking the 1267 committee to investigate who had paid or stood guarantee for Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi’s bail, as he too is on the sanctions list, and can have no recourse to funds. The issue is also pending with the 1267 committee, which has met twice already in May, without taking up the Indian proposals, allegedly after interventions by the Chinese Permanent Representative.
In the joint statement between Mr. Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang issued on May 15, both sides committed to fighting terror and “urged all countries and entities to work sincerely to disrupt terrorist networks and their financing, and stop cross-border movement of terrorists”. The words gave hope, one official said to The Hindu : “But we are yet to see China’s words translating on the ground in the UN.”
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