Watch: Why China agreed to list Masood Azhar as a global terrorist now

The listing of Masood Azhar as a UN designated terrorist ends an anomaly and India’s battle that has lasted two decades.

In October 2001, the UNSC committee had listed the Jaish-e-Mohammad, noting that it was the organisation Azhar founded and funded with help from Osama Bin Laden, but didn’t ban Azhar himself.

Later after the 26/11 attacks, India proposed the ban, but was thwarted by China which refused to accept evidence against Azhar. In 2016 and 2017, China repeated that move, although it accepted other listings against terrorists based in Pakistan, raising the sense that Azhar was especially protected by Pakistan’s establishment.

In 2019, after the Pulwama attacks, and world pressure, however, it seemed China could no longer hold out. Despite that, China did place a hold on the listing on March 13, which it has now removed.

While there are several reasons for the u-turn by China now, two seem key: post-Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping, India China relations have improved and India’s persistence on Azhar has paid off, and two, combined efforts of the US, the UK and France to push China to change its mind, even threatening to shame it with a public vote at the UNSC.

There is even speculation that Azhar, whom Pakistan’s government claims is very very ill, has outlived his usefulness for the Pakistani establishment, which then conveyed to China that it would not oppose the listing.

The bigger question now will be how much action will Pakistan take against Azhar. Sources in the Pakistani government have been saying that Azhar could be detained soon, but like the other prominent terror-designate Hafiz Saeed, who remains free despite being designated more than a decade ago for the Mumbai attacks, the detention may just be a lip service.

Real action will mean enforcing the letter of the UNSC mandate by shutting down Azhar’s ability to operate, and of his group’s ability to carry out terror attacks in India. This will include — according to UN resolution — cutting off Azahr's recourse to funds and arms, and also ensuring he cannot travel out of Pakistan

Printable version | May 8, 2021 11:36:31 AM |

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