UN ban on Azhar reflects success in crushing Great Wall of China

UN ban on Azhar reflects success in crushing Great Wall of China

Agency News

New Delhi, May 2 : More than isolating Pakistan – which has apparently been quite an easy mission – in terms of ensuring UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar, the Indian diplomacy achieved a tougher goal and seemed to have crushed the 'Great Wall of China'. This was easier said than done. In fact, even by first week of March 2019 – after France had pushed seeking UN Security Council listing against Azhar and the move was supported by the US and the United Kingdom – Indian side still remained skeptical.

Indian officials indicated that New Delhi was willing to show patience “as long as it takes" and work to persuade China reverse its stance on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and also on Jaish-e-Mohammed Azhar. But the patience and doggedness seemed to have yielded results by March 2019. For the first time since 2009, when India first tried to list Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, India got as many as 13 co-sponsors for the proposal. Beijing could not ignore this fact. The Chinese decision is probably also linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s growing acceptability internationally as Russia last month honoured him with its highest civilian award the ‘Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First’.

Moreover, China would be keen to deepen ties with India at a time when the Modi government’s US friendly gestures have already taken it closer to the US-led Indo Pacific strategy. India, during last few months, went overboard trying to convince international community that what it was stating about Pakistani complexity vis-a-vis terror was true and had credible evidence. Germany, Belgium and Poland also co-sponsored the proposal to ban Azhar. In fact, Indian officials often questioned what would India gain by ‘ban’ on Azhar would respond that in such an eventuality, the Pakistan getting cornered internationally would be complete.

“The UN listing has own benefits – in foreign policy and actual actions on ground will have benefits for national security,” a source maintained. “We now want to see that those banned are behind bars,” it said. At the global level, it became utterly difficult for China to continue with its double standard. A refrain soon went around that - Beijing persecutes members of the Uighur minority for practicing their faith but on the other hand, it supports Masood Azhar, a hardened jihadist seen as responsible for fomenting terrorism against India.

Even by February 27 at the RIC Foreign Ministers meet at Wuzhen in China, the Chinese official line was a cautious line one: "....we believe that Pakistan has always been opposed to terrorism". However, there was a ray of hope when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, "We agreed to jointly combat all forms terrorism through closer policy coordination and it is especially important to eradicate the breeding grounds of terrorism and extremism”. The mention of the "breeding grounds" of terrorism was largely seen as endorsement of India's stance specially against the backdrop of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack and the aerial strike carried out by Indian Air Force on February 26.

India had carried a surgical strike in 2016 after Uri attack in 2016 too. On her part, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said during RIC meet, "We have agreed that the UN-led Global Counter Terrorism mechanism be set up and it was also agreed that India-proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism be also finalised and adopted at the earliest". The credit also should go to persistent efforts made by NSA Ajit Doval to keep the US on board in its mission while Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale traveled to the US in March and also interacted with top representatives in the Trump administration.

The US too tried to build up pressure and thus within weeks after France initiated effort to proscribe Masood Azhar was stalled by China, the US moved a fresh draft resolution directly at the UN Security Council to designate him a global terrorist. There was some persuasion at different levels to convince China that it must redraw its policy. In March, the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo called out China’s alleged hypocrisy in repressing Muslims, while shielding ‘actual terrorists’ overseas. Now, that Azhar has been listed by UNSC, in his reaction the MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar said, "The 1267 Sanctions Committee’s decision to designate the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Masood Azhar, as a UN proscribed terrorist is a step in the right direction to demonstrate the international community’s resolve to fight against terrorism and its enablers".

“This is in accordance with India’s position and in line with the information that India has shared with the members of the Sanctions Committee regarding terrorist activities of Masood Azhar and the Jaish-e-Mohammad,” MEA spokesman said. India will continue with its efforts through international forums to ensure that terrorist organizations and their leaders who cause harm to Indian citizens are brought to justice, he added. (UNI)