After the timely military de-escalation with Pakistan, India has signalled that it intends to shift the action to the United Nations Security Council, where France is spearheading a proposal to list Masood Azhar, the head of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), under resolution 1267. The matter will be decided on March 13. Efforts are on to ensure that all 15 permanent and non-permanent members back the proposal.
Previous such efforts have come up against a Chinese roadblock. Understandable as China’s close relationship with Pakistan is, it is inexplicable why Beijing wants to be seen preventing restraints under the global legal architecture against the leader of a deadly terrorist group. It goes against its stated position on terrorism, and undermines its efforts to protect its own territory from terrorist groups. There is a lesson for the Asian superpower in the experience of another superpower. For years, the US looked the other way as Pakistan trained and armed terrorist groups because they served its purpose in Afghanistan. It realised the harsh consequences of that policy only after 9/11. With its huge investment in Pakistan, China must be mindful that the snakes in Pakistan’s backyard could one day turn their attention from India towards it. How China plays it at the Security Council this time will be the test of Pakistan’s stated intentions and demonstrations against the JeM and other terror groups.
The diplomatic pressure on Pakistan has borne some results already. The Imran Khan government announced it had taken into “preventive custody for investigation” a brother and a son of Masood Azhar and 42 others. However, this is all too deja vu. For years, Pakistan has played fast and loose when it comes to its pledges to end terrorism emanating from its territory. Delhi would be justified in asking how the JeM managed to survive Pakistan’s 2002 ban and the 2001 designation under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 to build itself up as one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the region. The same goes for the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its proxies including Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD). A “crackdown” against LeT/JuD after its November 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai did not leave any lasting impact. Its leader Hafiz Saeed has flourished, and is now considered a mainstream politician. Though the Pakistan government announced a ban against the LeT proxies, JuD and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation, last month, it actually took that step reluctantly and only after being found out earlier this week. Designation under 1267 and sanctions by the Financial Action Task Force provide the hope that Pakistan will do what it takes to dismantle the “infrastructure of terrorism”. It is time China persuades it to do so.