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Pak used China to pressure Indonesia to defer UN meet. Then US moved in

According to diplomats based in New York and New Delhi, the US led from the front and gave China the first ultimatum of making a decision on lifting its technical hold on Azhar’s listing by April 23, failing which it would take the matter to the UN Security Council.

india Updated: May 03, 2019 18:48 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi
Pakistan,UN,Masood Azhar
BJP supporters prepare to burn pictures of Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar, in Ahmedabad on Thursday.(AFP)

Amid the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring that led to the UN blacklisting of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, Pakistan used China to pressure Indonesia, the chair of the 1267 Sanctions Committee, to put off a key meeting to May 6 so that the Narendra Modi government couldn’t derive political mileage from the issue.

According to diplomats based in New York and New Delhi, the US led from the front and gave China the first ultimatum of making a decision on lifting its technical hold on Azhar’s listing by April 23, failing which it would take the matter to the UN Security Council.

Also Read | Pak govt issues order to implement sanctions against Jaish chief Masood Azhar

After much deliberation and with pressure mounting from France, the UK and Russia, China conveyed to its US interlocutors that it was ready for a meeting of the 1267 Sanctions Committee on May 1.

Watch | Pakistan, China wanted Masood Azhar ban after elections, felt will help Modi

On Wednesday, China lifted the hold it had imposed on March 13 and the sanctions committee listed Pakistan-based Azhar as a global terrorist. China had used a similar hold to block three earlier attempts to list Azhar.

The diplomats said that India, as part of a well-considered strategy, let the US take the lead and did not even raise the matter with Chinese officials when foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale went to Beijing for foreign office consultations on April 22.

However, at the same time, India through its senior interlocutors managed to get full support from Russia on the issue. A new proposal for Azhar’s listing was put up before the sanctions committee by France, the US and the UK on April 27, and the time for objection expired at 7 am on May 1. According to top Indian diplomats, Pakistan tried to intervene at the last moment by asking China to get Indonesia to delay the meeting of the sanctions committee to May 6. Some Chinese diplomats in New York and Delhi tried to assess the political impact if the listing was delayed to May 15.

Also Read | ‘Opposition reluctant to celebrate Masood Azhar ban’, says Arun Jaitley

But Indonesia made it amply clear to China that the US and the three other permanent members of the UN Security Council were in no mood to oblige Pakistan and delay the meeting, the diplomats said.

It is learnt that once China decided to lift its hold on Azhar’s listing, it told Pakistan to prepare a narrative that the action was part of the country’s National Action Plan against terrorism, while not giving up on the core issue of Kashmir.

It is in this context that Pakistan’s Foreign Office briefed the media on its perspective just before Azhar was declared a global terrorist. “A narrative was sought to be created that India had to compromise on the Pulwama attack and the Kashmir linkage to get the listing through, but the fact remains that New Delhi has been after Azhar since 2009, with the Narendra Modi government assiduously following up the issue in 2016 and 2017 after the Pathankot airbase attack,” said a senior official.

The extraordinary Chinese support for Pakistan was the topic of a meeting of the Contemporary China Study Group in the external affairs ministry on Thursday.

Chaired by external affairs ministry Sushma Swaraj and attended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, foreign secretary Gokhale and intelligence chiefs, the group discussed the umbilical relationship between Pakistan and China in the context of Azhar’s listing.

First Published: May 03, 2019 09:30 IST