With Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad having claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terrorist attack, the focus is back on Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar and Delhi’s failed attempt to list him as a “global terrorist” at the United Nations Security Council.
Azhar was released by the A B Vajpayee government in December 1999, along with Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Omar Sheikh, in exchange for the release of the passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814.
Delhi’s attempts to list him at the UNSC have been repeatedly blocked by China.
The most recent effort began after India blamed Jaish for the attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot on January 2, 2016. India put forward a proposal in February 2016 to designate Azhar as a terrorist under the aegis of the UNSC 1267 committee. China intervened at Pakistan’s behest and placed a technical hold on India’s move in March 2016, and again in October 2016. It subsequently used its veto power to block the proposal in December 2016, a day before the technical hold ended.
China again employed a technical hold and blocked a proposal put forward by the US, the UK and France on January 19, 2017 to designate Azhar as a terrorist.
India had started pushing for Azhar’s listing since 2008-09, after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, and even then China had put a technical hold.
Vivek Katju, former India diplomat who dealt with Pakistan and was one of the negotiators during the IC-814 hijack, told The Indian Express, “After today’s attack, the Chinese prevarication on Masood Azhar reveals their dichotomous approach on terrorism, and it once again demonstrates that when it comes to terrorism, the Pakistani tail wags the Chinese dog.”
India has always raised the issue of listing of Azhar as a logical conclusion since JeM has already been designated. In fact, that has been one of the major items on the agenda with China during bilateral talks from the level of PM to those of External Affairs Minister, Foreign Secretary and Joint Secretary.
With India and China agreeing on a reset of the relationship at the Wuhan summit in April 2018, there has not been any headway in the Chinese roadblock to Azhar’s listing over the last 10 months.
After the summit, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had been asked about the Chinese position on Azhar, and he had said, “As far as terrorism is concerned, it was discussed on a general level because as I mentioned earlier that at this level specifics are not discussed. India and China, both sides maintain that there will be no tolerance for terrorism and that it is in the interest of both countries to collaborate. As I said, beyond that it is a matter of discussion and there is continuing discussion between both countries on how to collaborate in this area.”