China on Wednesday lifted its veto on designating Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist by the United Nations, India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin said on Twitter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed it a big victory in the fight against terrorism while the Ministry of External Affairs said it was a step in the right direction “to demonstrate the international community’s resolve to fight against terrorism and its enablers”.
“Big, small, all join together. Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist in UN Sanctions list,” Akbaruddin said. “Grateful to all for their support.” This was a significant outcome, because “we have been at it for several years”, ANI quoted him as saying.
The envoy said India had made the first effort to designate Azhar a terrorist in 2009. “Today the goal stands achieved,” he added. “We are grateful to the many countries who were supportive of this effort, that is the USA, the UK, France, and also several others within the council and outside the council who came forward and supported this Indian effort at not tolerating a terrorist.”
Beijing has repeatedly blocked attempts by the United Nations Security Council to blacklist Azhar, most recently on March 13. The Jaish-e-Mohammed killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force Personnel in a suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14.
The proposal to blacklist Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee was moved by United States, the United Kingdom and France two weeks after the Pulwama bombing. China blocked it by putting a “technical hold” on the application. It defended its move saying it was only following procedure and needed more time to review the proposal.
The country’s foreign ministry claimed its actions do not amount to protecting violent Islamic groups from sanctions – an allegation levelled by the United States. China 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. Earlier too, China had blocked attempts to list him as a global terrorist.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley welcomed the move. “India stands vindicated,” he tweeted. “Masood Azhar is now a global terrorist. India is in safe hands. This marks a high point for the Prime Minister’s foreign policy.”
Union minister Prakash Javadekar called it a “big diplomatic victory for India” under Modi’s leadership in the fight against terrorism. “Now Pakistan stands completely exposed,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that he was happy about the development, ANI reported. However, Jammu and Kashmir leader Omar Abdullah asked if it was true that Azhar was blacklisted because all references to the Pulwama attack and terrorism in the state were removed.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav demanded that Pakistan immediately arrest Azhar, freeze his assets and shut down organisations associated with him. “I congratulate the Indian diplomatic corp for the tireless work that has led to this significant victory- it is the first step in ensuring Masood Azhar pays for his crimes.”
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said, “It’s taken us 10 years, but it’s finally done.”