Twenty four hours before the deadline expires for any member at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) — five permanent and 10 non-permanent — to object to the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, New Delhi intensified its diplomatic engagement in New York, Washington and Beijing among other world capitals.
South Block was waiting and watching Beijing closely — its Monday statement has not been very encouraging, sources said. “There has been no forward movement from Beijing so far. But let’s wait until the deadline,” a source told The Indian Express.
Sources indicated that if a change happens, it will be reflected in Islamabad. “If China decides to go along with the listing process, chances are that they will ask Pakistan to claim credit for the action against terrorist infrastructure,” a source said.
Officials here said that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang’s statement on Monday that China adopted a “responsible attitude” and followed “rules and procedures” of the UNSC Resolution 1267 sanctions committee was merely a reiteration of its old narrative.
“Only through responsible discussions can we come up with a responsible solution,” Lu had said on Monday.
The deadline for any country to “seek clarification” — the UN jargon for “raising objection” — is 3 pm New York time Wednesday, which is 12.30 am IST on Thursday.
Sources said the 1267 sanctions committee, which is currently chaired by Indonesia, will wait until 3 pm, and if there is no member country seeking clarification, Azhar gets listed automatically.
Azhar’s listing as a global terrorist would mean ban on his travel and his assets. It will make it difficult for him to operate. It sends a political signal that China is no more going to protect Pakistan for its terrorist activities, and buttress India’s assertion that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism.
Over the last 10 years, China has single-handedly blocked Azhar’s listing as a “global terrorist” at the UNSC committee.
The new proposal to list Azhar at the UNSC, co-sponsored by US, UK and France, has seen India reaching out to member countries of the UNSC ahead of the March 13 deadline for countries to raise objections to the proposal.
While Russia has conveyed its support to Delhi, Germany, Belgium and Poland — the three non-permanent members from Europe — have also pledged support.
India is working through the OIC, especially the Saudi and the UAE, to garner support from Kuwait and Indonesia, who are also non-permanent members.
The US, UK and France are also working on Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Peru and South Africa, so that there are no holdouts, at Beijing’s behest.
“Since any member of UNSC can ask for a clarification, and thereby stall the listing — our ambassadors are engaging with all these member countries. Excerpts of the dossiers have been given to all the countries,” a source said.
Sources said that the dossier clearly says that the Pulwama attack has been carried out by Jaish, a terrorist group based in Pakistan, and Azhar is its leader. “And since Jaish is already a listed terror group, its leader should also be listed,” the source said.
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.
Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that Pakistan has assured the US it will deal “firmly” with terrorists operating from the country and take steps to de-escalate tensions with India.
This assurance was given by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during a phone call on Monday, Bolton said in a tweet on a day when Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale called on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
In Islamabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said the purpose of Qureshi’s call was to provide Bolton Pakistan’s perspective on the “recent regional developments.” It did not mention anything about its assurance on action against JeM and other terrorist groups.
“Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Secretary Gokhale discussed the importance of bringing those responsible for the (Pulwama) attack to justice and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil,” said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino.