Last month, China lifted its ‘technical hold’ on the designation of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, paving the way for him to be labelled as a global terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council (UNSC). This marked a high point in India’s diplomatic endeavours. However, there is a need to analyse the decision-making process leading to the adoption of the resolution.
Both China and Pakistan have questionable track records when it comes to condemning terrorist attacks around the world. China, on the behest of Pakistan, repeatedly refused to list Azhar, despite receiving proof from Indian diplomatic missions regarding his role in many terrorist attacks. Additionally, China labels anyone with a dissenting opinion as a terrorist, giving Beijing a free hand to suppress any kind of dissent, as can be seen through the accusations levelled against the Dalai Lama and Dolkun Isa, leaders of the minority Tibetan and Muslim Uyghur communities, respectively. The accusation against the Dalai Lama as engaging in “terrorism under disguise” was met with strong international condemnation, a fact that China chooses to ignore as it suits its domestic policy objectives regarding control over Tibet.
Pakistan has been successfully evading responsibility for the JeM’s actions despite Azhar’s designation. India has been unable to attribute JeM’s actions to Pakistan under the Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts and subsequently hold the country responsible for the breach of its international obligation to comply with the sanction requirements. This is largely due to the systematic loopholes inherent in the Articles on Responsibility relating to the ascription of acts of a non-state actor.
Placing Azhar on the list without formally associating him with either the Pathankot or Pulwama terror attack reduces the possibility of Pakistan being on the receiving end of strong sanctions from the international community. The UN’s actions are telling of the diplomatic clout China wields in the international arena where the Chinese foreign spokesperson claims a victory for Chinese and Pakistani diplomacy, while ensuring that India’s demands are not fully met.
Blacklisting terrorist organisations in the past has proven to be futile as evidenced by Hafiz Saeed’s active involvement in terrorist activities despite being designated as a terrorist under the same sanctions committee.
Global challenges like terrorism require global cooperation. However, countries continue to think and act in terms of self-interest. In a bid to become powerhouses in a multipolar world, countries like China will keep dictating terms, which is bound to make the forging of any global agreement against terrorism difficult.
Radhika Chhabra is a researcher with the Observer Research Foundation