China defends move to block UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar
China on Friday said its decision not to back India’s appeal to the United Nations to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar was based on “facts” and “procedure”, bringing into focus Beijing’s cozy ties with Islamabad.
On Thursday, China in collaboration with Pakistan again blocked India’s bid to ban Azhar, the alleged mastermind of the January 2 terror attack on Pathankot airbase.
According to reports, 14 of the 15 countries on the UN Security Council were willing to designate Azhar a terrorist, but China used its veto power to block the move.
Beijing on Friday indicated it did not have all the facts to support the ban.
Asked about China’s stance at the regular news conference, foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei couched his answer in diplomatic language, saying his country is “opposed to all forms of terrorism”.
He added, “We always deal with the listing issue under the Security Council committee established under Resolution1267 based on facts and relevant rules of procedure in an objective and just manner. The Chinese side has always been in communication with relevant parties on the listing issue.”
Hong further said that China supports the UN “playing a central and coordinating role in international cooperation against terrorism” and it has taken “active part in international counter-terrorism operations”.
Ironically, the Chinese move came as President Xi Jinping, after meeting his US counterpart Barack Obama on the margins of a nuclear summit in Washington, said nations must stand united against terrorism.
Beijing’s decision also brought into focus its stand on terrorism, an issue on which it has repeatedly accused the West of “double standards”.
In New Delhi, minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju criticised China for blocking the bid for a UN ban on Azhar. “What China has done was not good. The ministry of external affairs will take an appropriate action. Whatever action is required, we will take,” he told reporters.
In January, Indian officials had said they were putting together more evidence against Azhar after the Pathankot attack to share with China. India also wrote to the UN to take immediate action to list Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee.
But even if the evidence was shared, it clearly did not convince China. Beijing has repeated the reasons it gave in 2009, when it had blocked efforts to sanction Azhar under Resolution 1267.
Azhar, who set up JeM after being freed by India in exchange for passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines flight in December 1999, is believed to have close ties with Pakistan’s military establishment.