India blames China for lack of consensus on Masood Azhar, says burden of proof against Jaish chief not on New DelhiUpdated: Mar 23, 2017 15:35 IST
India on Wednesday dismissed China’s contention that it has not furnished enough evidenceagainst Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar, with foreign secretary S Jaishankar telling senior Chinese officials that the burden of proof is not on New Delhi.
China’s efforts to block moves to sanction Azhar at the UN, despite its “principled” stand on counter-terrorism, was a political decision, he said.
“We looked at a whole series of issues, our own immediate neighbourhood, Afghanistan, Iran, Middle-East, Europe and the Korean Peninsula.”
Jaishankar also reiterated India’s concerns on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through PoK, making it clear that it was a “sovereignty” issue and the reason why New Delhi will not be part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive inter-continental connectivity project floated by President Xi Jinping.
On the Azhar issue, Jaishankar made it clear to Chinese officials that the burden of proof is not on India.
The international community is convinced of Azhar’s culpability and it was the US, UK and France which had moved the latest proposal at the UN Security Council to get the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief proscribed, he added.
“My own sense is before my coming here whatever speculation there has been in our media to my mind did not really comprehend what this exercise was about. This was not an exercise where two or three issues and those became necessarily the standard of judgement. It is a broader consultation, a consultation we have with other countries.”
Jaishankar is leading a senior delegation of Indian diplomats - including four joint secretaries - to meet Chinese counterparts for the first round of the upgraded strategic dialogue amid an ongoing diplomatic chill and cautious optimism about a thaw in ties.
China has repeatedly blocked efforts at the UN Security Council’s 1267 committee to sanction Azhar, saying there is no consensus on the matter. Last week, China contended India is yet to provide “solid evidence” against Azhar.
“Correct. There isn’t a consensus because China hasn’t joined it,” Jaishankar said at a briefing for Beijing-based Indian media when asked about the issue. India’s understanding is that there is “overwhelming support” in the world community for its position.
Jaishankar said China’s principles on counter-terrorism, otherwise “unexceptionable”, were weighed down by procedural requirements, the political context in which it has taken place and the surety of the matter in context of Azhar.
“We pointed out that this time around, it’s not India but other countries (which mooted the proposal). So, there is a body of world opinion out there (against Azhar),” Jaishankar said after his strategic dialogue with executive vice-foreign minister, Zhang Yesui.
Besides the issue of Azhar, China’s decision to block India’s application to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) also hit bilateral ties in 2016.
“China said it had an open approach on India’s membership but that there were issues of procedures and processes, which they felt needed further clarification and discussions. So, they were not in a position to bring it to a finite conclusion. At the same time, they maintained in terms of India’s application, they had an open mind about it,” Jaishankar said.
China, Jaishankar said, brought up the issue of President Pranab Mukherjee meeting Tibetan leader Dalai Lama in December – the first time a serving president had met him at a formal event at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in decades.
“It is a mixed picture. There is a lot we are doing. There is movement on many things, isn’t on some.”
China regards the Dharamshala-based Dalai Lama as a separatist and has called him a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.
“The issue did come up. I reiterated that this was a meeting of Nobel Laureates for a non-political purpose which (the event) was do with child labour. So, they should not read any political meaning into it,” the foreign secretary said.
During the meetings, China, he said, invited India to take part in the high-profile BRI summit coming up in Beijing in May. “They have extended invitation to the government to participate in this summit. We are examining the matter. From our side, I explained to them that India is today pro- connectivity country. Fact is CPEC is part of this particular initiative and CPEC violates India’s sovereignty because it runs through PoK. Therefore, since they are a country very sensitive about sovereignty concerns, it was for them to see how a country whose sovereignty has been violated can come on (such) an invitation,” he said.
“We would like to see what proposals anybody has in that regard. We were very frank with them to share our concerns,” he said.
Earlier in the day, China called for enhanced communication with India to reduce the level of “strategic misunderstandings” between the two countries and expand cooperation.
“We also exchanged views on the state of the world…given the fluidity of the international situation, both of us have come to the conclusion that India-China (ties) remain stable and forward looking and that we actually add to the sense of certainty international politics today.”
Speaking to Jaishankar ahead of the strategic dialogue, foreign minister Wang Yi said China attached great importance to the reconstituted and upgraded dialogue.
He said it will help increase strategic trust and cooperation.
Jaishankar called on Wang for a brief but crucial courtesy call on Wednesday morning before beginning the strategic dialogue with executive vice-foreign minister Zhang Yesui.