China blocks US-backed move to sanction JeM chief Masood Azhar at UN

Beijing put a technical hold on India’s application to sanction Masood Azhar that lapsed last year, and also blocked fresh proposal put up the US and backed by France and the UK.
India, backed by the United States, has been trying to get Masood Azhar on a UN list of groups with ties to al Qaeda, blaming his group for a series of attacks in India, including one on its parliament in 2002 and another last year on an airbase.(Reuters file)
India, backed by the United States, has been trying to get Masood Azhar on a UN list of groups with ties to al Qaeda, blaming his group for a series of attacks in India, including one on its parliament in 2002 and another last year on an airbase.(Reuters file)
Updated on Nov 03, 2017 08:17 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Beijing | BySutirtho Patranobis

China on Thursday blocked a US-backed resolution to sanction Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar at the UN Security Council, citing “absence of consensus” among member countries to declare him an international terrorist.

The foreign ministry had signalled its intention to block the resolution earlier in the day, saying: “It is a fact that the (UN) committee is yet to reach agreement (on the move).”

China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, has repeatedly blocked moves to sanction Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee since last year.

The Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar expressed deep disappointment at the Chinese move.

“We are deeply disappointed that once again, a single country has blocked international consensus on the designation of an acknowledged terrorist and leader of UN-designated terrorist organization, Masood Azhar,” Kumar said in a statement that did not name China.

“India strongly believes that double standards and selective approaches will only undermine the international community’s resolve to combat terrorist. We can only hope that there will be a realization that accommodating with terrorism for narrow objectives is both short sighted and counter productive,” he said.

China was the only country opposing the resolution. All other 14 countries of the 15-member security council supported the move by the US and France, news agency PTI said.

If they Chinese “did not have blocked” the proposal, “it would have been adopted”, PTI quoted the official sources as saying.

“They killed the US proposal for now,” the official said.

On Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry had cited the lack of “solid proof” against Azhar, accused by India of masterminding the terror attack on Pathankot airbase in 2016, as the reason for its stubborn insistence on blocking the move.

There was more of the same when the issue was raised at the regular foreign ministry news briefing on Thursday.

“We raised a technical hold so as to allow the UN Security Council committee and all members to deliberate on this matter. But there is still an absence of consensus (among the member countries),” spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

“The (the 1267 committee which imposes sanctions on terror organisations) has its rules of procedure and it has yet to reach a consensus, there are still disagreements,” she said.

Hua added, “China’s actions are meant to ensure that we safeguard the authority and effectiveness of this committee and we will continue to follow the mandate of the committee and rules of procedure and remain in constant communication and coordination will all members of the committee.”

Indian officials believe China is acting at the behest of its close ally Pakistan. The Jaish-e-Mohammed chief operates freely within Pakistan and the group is believed to have close ties to the Pakistani security establishment.

On Monday, Hua had said: “The relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council have clear stipulations as to the mandate of the 1267 Committee and clear stipulations when it comes to the listing of relevant organisations and individuals.”

China’s reluctance to act against Azhar comes weeks after Brics (Brazil, Russian, India, China and South Africa) member countries – rather unexpectedly – named Pakistan-based JeM and Lashkar-e-Taiba among terror groups causing violence and security concerns, bracketing them with the Islamic State.

Beijing’s decision to block the move could be seen as a turn-around after being part of the Xiamen Declaration, released after the Brics summit last month. The declaration was the first time anti-India groups such as LeT and JeM were compared to the IS by the grouping.

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