China on Wednesday again blocked the United Nations Security Council’s move to designate Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad’s chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist. The terror outfit had claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir in which 40 security personnel were killed.
Two weeks after the suicide bombing, the United States, the United Kingdom and France had moved a fresh proposal at the UN Security Council to blacklist Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee. The committee members had until March 13 to raise objections, with the deadline set to end at 12.30 am on Thursday. The committee was to arrive at a conclusion by consensus of its members, PTI reported.
In a statement soon after, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said it was disappointed by the outcome but that it was grateful to “member states who moved the designation proposal and the unprecedented number of all other Security Council members as well as non-members who joined as co-sponsors”. “We will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice,” it said.
According to the listing rules of the Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee, the UNSC’s decision will be considered adopted if no objection is received by the end of the period. If accepted, the sanctions will subject Azhar to an assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo.
China is a permanent member of the Security Council. It had previously prevented the Security Council’s Islamic State and al Qaeda sanctions committee from sanctioning Azhar in 2016 and 2017. On February 15, a day after the Pulwama attack, China had refused to back India’s appeal at the UN to designate Azhar a global terrorist.
A day before the decision, the US said Azhar meets the criteria to be listed as a global terrorist and failure to do so would run counter to the goal of achieving regional stability and peace. On March 12, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said Pompeo had expressed his “understanding” of India’s concerns regarding cross-border terrorism.
According to the State Department, Pompeo reiterated that the US would stand with the people and government of India in the fight against terrorism.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton on Monday said that he had spoken with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to “encourage meaningful steps against JeM and other terrorist groups operating from Pakistan”.
Earlier attempts thwarted
The proposal was the fourth such bid at the UN over the last decade to designate Azhar a global terrorist. India in 2009 had moved a proposal by itself, and with the US, UK and France in 2016 after an attack on the Uri air base in Pathankot in January that year.
The next year, the US, UK and France moved a similar proposal, but China vetoed the bid on all occasions.