China’s dissent on Azhar counters mutual goals

Leroy Wright
March 14, 2019

China put a technical hold on a proposal in the UN Security Council to ban Masood Azhar just before the close of the deadline.

According to a comment piece in the Chinese newspaper Global Times, India failed to provide "solid evidence" against Azhar and said China rightly practised caution against listing him as a terrorist.

Masood Azhar is the chief of Pakistan-based United Nations listed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the group that took responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that killed more than 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir.

Except for China, which wields veto power in the Security Council, all other UNSC members were on board with the move before the al-Qaida (1267) Sanctions Committee. In a statement by its Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India asserted that the committee was not able to come to a decision on the proposal on account of a member placing the proposal on hold.

India on Saturday said all UNSC members were aware about the JeM training camps and the presence of terror group's chief Masood Azhar in Pakistan, and urged them to designate him as a global terrorist.

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.

"The US and China share a mutual interest in achieving regional stability and peace, and ... a failure to designate Azhar would run counter to this goal", Palladino added. The P-3 countries - US, UK and France - had co-sponsored the proposal to list Azhar on UNSC.

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".

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India said it was "disappointed by this outcome" but said it will "pursue all available avenues" to bring to justice terrorist leaders involved in attack on Indians.

During his weekly briefing, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang responded to a question which asked what Beijing's position would be at the meet after India on Saturday appealed that all permanent members of UNSC should declare Azhar a terrorist.

As Indian Air Force jets pounded targets Balakot in February, China had called for calm and had said it was in touch with both India and Pakistan regarding recent tensions.

The travel ban entails preventing the entry into or transit by all states through their territories by designated individuals.

"The case for designating Masood Azhar - the leader of a group the United Nations already calls an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization - is undeniable", the diplomat said.

Pressuring Pakistan to deliver on its counter-terrorism commitments and the move to designate Azhar a global terrorist figured in foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale's meeting with USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

China's stand follows despite India and China slowly mending ties after a 73-day military standoff in 2017.

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