Lashkar-e-Taiba’s operational commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi — arrested for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and included in December 2008 by the UN sanctions committee in the list of designated terrorists under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 (UNSCR 1267) — was released from a Pakistani prison on bail on April 10. In May, India took Lakhvi’s release to the sanctions committee, popularly called the 1267 committee, where it argued that the committee needed to investigate who had paid or stood guarantee for Lakhvi’s bail, as he is on the sanctions list and has no access to funds. In all the meetings of the 1267 committee held last month, China reportedly ensured that the Indian proposal was not taken up. Finally, in a meeting in New York on June 15, China used a “technical hold” to block the move against Lakhvi, saying that India has not provided “sufficient information” in support of its case.
The 1267 committee is made up of all 15 members of the Security Council and its meetings are closed-door. Because the committee officially takes decisions by consensus, the five permanent members often exercise their veto on proposals by placing a “technical hold”. China has repeatedly invoked the “technical hold” to protect terrorists operating from Pakistani soil — the only exception being the case of Hafiz Saeed, Lakhvi and others after the Mumbai terror attacks. Even then, Beijing did not agree to a US request to place four retired/ serving ISI officials on the 1267 list. This caused a frustrated US state department to say in a secret cable, later leaked by Wikileaks, that “on the international stage, Pakistan has sought to block the UNSCR 1267 listings of Pakistan-based or affiliated terrorists by requesting that China place holds on the nominations”.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to China, both countries had issued a joint statement affirming their shared commitment to fighting terror.
They had also “urged all countries and entities to work sincerely to disrupt terrorist networks and their financing, and stop cross-border movement of terrorists”. China, evidently, is refusing to fulfil its promise. India can do little except sustain pressure on Beijing. But in the end, the answers to India’s problems with Pakistan cannot come from China. They can only come by engaging Pakistan directly. The earlier the Indian government does it, the better.