The Congress on Thursday criticised the Narendra Modi-led government after China blocked the United Nations Security Council’s move to designate Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad’s chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist.

Surjewala said it was a “sad day” in the global fight against terrorism. “China blocking Masood Azhar’s designation as a global terrorist reaffirms the Chinese position of being an inseparable ally of terrorism’s breeding ground – Pakistan,” Surjewala tweeted. “Sadly, Modiji’s foreign policy has been a series of diplomatic disasters.”

Taking a jibe at Modi, Surjewala said, “Even after the 56-inch ‘hugplomacy’ and the game of sitting on a swing, the China-Pakistan alliance has shown India the ‘red-eye’ once again and exposed the Modi government’s failed foreign policy.” The Congress leader’s tweets are a jibe at the “56-inch chest” phrase that Modi often used to describe himself ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Surjewala also referred to Modi sitting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on a swing Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Ashram in 2014.

National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said “Pakistan gets its way once again”.

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.

The Congress has been criticising the Bharatiya Janata Party for freeing Azhar during the Kandahar plane hijack incident of December 24, 1999. Terrorists belonging to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen group hijacked an Indian Airlines aircraft and flew it to Kandahar, in Afghanistan. The Indian government, then also led by the BJP, had to free three terrorists, including Masood Azhar, to secure the release of over 160 passengers.