China says ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar blocked for lack of consensus | world-news | Hindustan Times
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China says ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar blocked for lack of consensus

Lack of consensus was the reason given by China for blocking a move by the US to sanction Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar at the UN Security Council.

world Updated: Feb 08, 2017 17:37 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Masood Azhar
File picture from August 2001 shows Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar addresses a meeting of religious parties in Islamabad. (AFP)

China said on Wednesday a US-sponsored move to include Pakistan-based terror suspect Masood Azhar in a list of UN-designated terrorists had been blocked because there was no consensus and conditions had not been met for the listing.

In defending the move, Beijing brushed aside New Delhi’s outrage that the alleged mastermind of last year’s terror attack on Pathankot airbase had again slipped through the net of international sanctions.

In the same breath, the Chinese foreign ministry hoped the decision would not affect India-China ties.

This isn’t the first time China has come in the way of sanctions against Azhar, which many say is a result of Beijing’s all-weather friendship with Islamabad. But its defence of the move continues to be the same one it trotted out earlier.

“Last year, the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council discussed the issue regarding listing Masood (Azhar) in the sanctions list. There were different views with no consensus reached,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

“As for the submission once again by relevant countries to list him in the sanctions list, I would say the conditions are not yet met for the committee to reach a decision,” he added.

“China has put the request on technical hold to allow the relevant parties more time to consult with each other. This is also in line with rules of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the rules of the discussion of the committee,” Lu said.

He acknowledged Beijing and New Delhi had “exchanged views” on the issue. “We don’t hope it will have a negative impact on our relationship,” he said.

The US proposal against Azhar said his group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), was a designated terror organisation and its leaders could not go scot-free.

“China opposed the US move by putting a hold on the proposal just before the expiry of the 10-day deadline for any proposal to be adopted or blocked or to be put on hold,” an official in New Delhi told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.

A US state department official said Washington’s views on Azhar and JeM were “well known” and the group was “responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a threat to regional stability”.

China clearly – some would say determinedly – is not convinced. And it didn’t really matter if it was an US-sponsored move this time.

“So, whoever submitted the request, we believe all the members of the committee will act in line with regulations of the Security Council and its affiliations,” Lu said.

Lu said including Azhar in the list was not a “matter of length time” but a “matter of whether consensus can be reached on the basis of full consultation”, refusing to indicate whether China will change its decision.

Referring to criticism that China has continually blocked moves against Azhar at the behest of Pakistan, Lu said: “China’s action in the Security Council and its affiliations are in line with the regulations and procedures.

“We put out technical hold after we had several rounds of consultations with India. We hope relevant parties have enough time to consult with each other to make sure that the decision made by the Committee will be based on consensus representing the broad international community,” he said.

The JeM, a Pakistan-based terror group, was blamed for attacks on an airbase in Pathankot in January 2016 and on an Indian Army camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in September, which led to unprecedented surgical strikes by Indian forces along the Line of Control.

Beijing blocked New Delhi’s application on Azhar before the UN sanctions committee — which goes by the lengthy name of Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011), and 2253 (2015) concerning ISIL (Da’esh, names for Islamic State) al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities — three times last year.

The issue of Azhar and China’s role in blocking India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will continue to hamper bilateral ties.