Designation failure: On China’s decision to block terror tag for Lashkar leader

India must continue to gather evidence and build its case on cross-border terrorism in international fora

June 20, 2022 12:20 am | Updated 11:15 am IST

There is a sense of déjà vu about China’s decision on June 16 to block the UN Security Council designation of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) deputy chief Abdul Rahman Makki as a terrorist, given that Beijing had repeatedly blocked the designation of the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar until 2019, and other terror designations prior to that. Here too, the pile of evidence against Abdul Makki is considerable: that he is part of the command and control of the UNSC-designated terror group LeT, later renamed the Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD), which is also a UN-designated terror group, is in no doubt. He was not just a member of the governing body or “Shura”; he served as the head of its “foreign relations” department, and raised funding. He is also a member of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed’s family (brother in law). The LeT/JuD has been prosecuted in India, the United States and even Pakistan for the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, and Makki was himself tried and sentenced by a Pakistani special court to nine years imprisonment on terror financing charges — a ruling overturned a year later. India wants him for his involvement in attacks over the past two decades, including the Red Fort attack in Delhi in 2000, and, more recently, in attacks on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. He is on India’s UAPA list of designated terrorists and also the U.S.’s Specially Designated Global Terrorists with a $2 million reward for information that would convict him. Given what India and the U.S., which forwarded the proposal to put him on the UNSC’s 1267 list of terrorists linked to the al Qaeda and ISIL, have called “overwhelming” evidence, New Delhi has termed China’s move to place a hold on the process (this could delay it for as much as six months) as “regrettable” and “extremely unfortunate”.

While China’s actions may be motivated by growing acrimony with the U.S. and India, it is necessary to analyse the situation beyond bilateral tensions. That Beijing’s last-minute hold on Makki’s listing came even as the Financial Action Task Force was meeting in Berlin to credit Pakistan’s actions on terror financing, and begin the process to relieve it from the grey list, pending an on-site visit in the next few months, may not be a coincidence. While China defends its actions on Makki and previous designations that it blocked as “technical objections” based on “procedural” loopholes, it is clearly part of a pattern of protecting Pakistan internationally. It is also notable that as a result of China’s objections or otherwise, none of the terror designations under UNSC 1267 thus far against LeT commander Zaki ur Rahman Lakhvi in 2008, Hafiz Saeed in 2009 and Masood Azhar in 2019 actually contains charges against them for any attacks carried out in India. Beyond criticism and continued pursuance of the listing, it is necessary for the Government to continue to gather evidence and systematically build its case on cross-border terrorism on the international stage that cannot be derailed by political or geopolitical considerations.

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