China again blocks bid at UN to list JeM chief Masood Azhar as global terrorist
The statement also noted that Azhar is a former leader of the terrorist group Harakat al-Mujahadin and he had given a call to volunteers to join the fight in Afghanistan against Western forces
China for the fourth time blocked a bid in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to designate chief of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” by putting a technical hold on the proposal on Wednesday, a move India termed as disappointing.
The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) on February 27, days after a suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, leading to a flare-up in tensions between India and Pakistan.
The Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee members had 10 working days to raise any objections to the proposal. The no-objection period deadline was scheduled to end at 3 PM local time (New York) Wednesday, (12:30 AM IST Thursday).
Just before the deadline, China put a “technical hold” on the proposal, a diplomat at the UN said.
The diplomat said China asked for “more time to examine” the proposal.
The technical hold is valid for up to six months and it can be again extended by up to three months.
Reacting to the development, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi expressed disappointment.
“We are disappointed. We will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorists involved in attacks on Indian citizens are brought to justice,” the MEA said.
“We are grateful to all countries who supported the bid to designate Azhar as global terrorist,” it said.
The proposal was the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.
The Committee makes its decisions by consensus of its members.
All eyes were on China, which has in the past blocked India’s bids to get Azhar listed as a UN-designated global terrorist thrice.
According to the listing rules of the Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee, if no objection is received by the end of the no-objection period, the decision will be deemed adopted.
As it has done in the past, Beijing put a technical hold on the proposal just as the deadline was about to end.
An inkling of China’s stand on the issue came during Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang’s press conferences on Monday and Wednesday in Beijing when he was asked about the proposal to list Azhar as a global terrorist by the UNSC.
“The UN Security Council and its subsidiary bodies are run on strict rules. We already stressed China’s position on the listing of terrorist organisations and individuals in the UN Security Council 1267 Committee on many occasions,” Lu said on Monday. “China will continue to adopt responsible attitude and participate in the deliberations in the UNSC 1267 Committee,” Lu said on Wednesday.
On the issue of listing Azhar, he said, “I want to say that China always adopts a responsible attitude, engage in consultations with various parties and properly deal with this issue.” “The discussions, I want to say must follow the rules and procedures of the relevant bodies and only the solution that is acceptable to all sides is conducive for resolving the issue,” he said, indicating that Beijing may again block the move to list Azhar as a global terrorist.
According to sources, the statement of the case of the latest proposal by France mentioned that JeM had taken responsibility for the Pulwama suicide attack on February 14 in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.The statement also noted that Azhar is a former leader of the terrorist group Harakat al-Mujahadin and he had given a call to volunteers to join the fight in Afghanistan against Western forces.
In 2009, India moved a proposal by itself to designate Azhar. In 2016 again India moved the proposal with the P3 - the US, the UK and France in the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee to ban Azhar, also the mastermind of the attack on the air base in Pathankot in January, 2016.
In 2017, the P3 nations moved a similar proposal again. However, on all occasions China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, blocked India’s proposal from being adopted by the Sanctions Committee. An assets freeze under the Sanctions Committee requires that all states freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities.
The travel ban entails preventing the entry into or transit by all states through their territories by designated individuals. Under the arms embargo, all states are required to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories to the designated individuals and entities.
Hectic diplomatic and political parleys had preceded the closely-watched March 13 deadline as New Delhi reached out to the UNSC member countries.
In the wake of the Pulwama terror attack, India launched a major diplomatic offensive against Pakistan, holding briefing for envoys of 25 countries, including those from the five permanent UNSC members -- the US, China, Russia, the UK and France -- to highlight Islamabad’s role in using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
Modi’s foreign policy a series of ‘diplomatic disasters, says Congress
The Congress attacked the Modi administration and slammed China for blocking the move.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it was a sad day in the global fight against terrorism.
The Congress has been attacking the BJP over Masood Azhar’s release in exchange for passengers of a hijacked Indian plane. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tell the nation that it was a BJP-led government which released Azhar from an Indian jail in 1999.
Azhar and two other terrorists, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, were released from an Indian prison in 1999 by the then BJP-led government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in exchange for the passengers held hostage on board flight IC-814 hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
“After 56 inch’s ‘hugplomacy’ and the game of sitting on a swing also, the China-Pakistan duo is showing red eyes to India,” Surjewala added in a tweet in Hindi.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said saying he was weak and scared of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Responsible UNSC members may be forced to pursue other actions”
UNSC members warned they “may be forced to pursue other actions” at the Security Council if Beijing continued with this policy.
A diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity to give a sense of the feeling of other members of the Security Council after China blocked the move to designate Azhar a global terrorist. Beijing previously put a technical hold on similar proposals at the UNSC thrice.
“This is the fourth time that China has placed a hold on this listing. China should not prevent the Committee from doing the job the Security Council has entrusted it to do,” another security council diplomat said.
“China’s move to hold the listing is inconsistent with its own stated goals of combatting terrorism and furthering regional stability in South Asia,” said the diplomat.
The diplomat also slammed Pakistan for depending on China to protect terrorist groups and leaders that operate from its soil.
“Pakistan has quite often depended on China to protect it from the listing of Pakistan-based terrorist groups and individuals in the UN 1267 sanctions committee,” the diplomat said.
“The case for designating Masood Azhar — the leader of a group the UN already calls an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization — is undeniable,” the diplomat said.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration had said that Azhar meets the criteria for designation by the United Nations.
“Our views on JeM and its founder are well known. JeM is a UN-designated terrorist group,” State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters.
“Azhar is the founder and the leader of JEM, and he meets the criteria for designation by the United Nations. JEM has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a threat to regional stability and peace,” Palladino said.
The State Department referred to this statement on Wednesday when asked about the latest developments in New York.
“I would say that the US and China share a mutual interest in achieving regional stability and peace, and that a failure to designate Azhar would run counter to this goal,” Palladino said.
Congressman Brad Sherman described the Chinese move as unacceptable.
“Once again, China has blocked the UN from imposing sanctions on Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, which carried out the Pulwama attack in India in February. This is unacceptable. I urge Beijing to allow the UN to place sanctions on Azhar, the leader of a UN-recognized terrorist organization,” Sherman said.
Several American think-tank members slammed China for its decision delaying the Azhar listing.
“Today, China doubled down on a very bad bet. It blocked yet another round of UN sanctions on Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar weeks after the group claimed credit for the deadliest terror attack in Kashmir. This one won’t be undone by another romantic stroll through Wuhan, he said, indicating that such a move by Beijing would only escalate the tension between India and China,” Jeff Smith from the Heritage Foundation said.