Behind China’s move to block Masood Azhar’s listing, a strategic reason

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NEW YORK: China blocked on Wednesday India's bid to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 1267 list. The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba chief, Hafiz Saeed, and his deputy, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi were both placed on the lost after the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Confirming the development, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, "1267 Sanctions Committee, upon completion of the no-objection period on 13 March 2019, was not able to come to a decision on the proposal for listing Mohammed Masood Azhar Alvi under the UN Sanctions regime, on account of a member placing the proposal on hold".

The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, UK and the United States on February 27 after the attack in Pulwama on Feb 14 that had killed 40 Indian troops.

With the deadline for raising objections to the proposal ending at 12.30am (India time) on Thursday; China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council put a "technical hold" on the same and asked "more time to examine" the proposal, PTI newswire agency reported.

According to sources, the statement of the case of the latest proposal by France mentioned that JeM had taken responsibility for the Pulwama suicide attack on February 14 in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.

On Tuesday, China had said that "responsible and serious discussions" are needed ahead of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)'s sanctions committee meeting. There were high level visits to India including by the Chinese defence and foreign ministers as part of the efforts to mend ties.

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US National Security Advisor John Bolton on Monday said that he had spoken with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to "encourage meaningful steps against JeM and other terrorist groups operating from Pakistan". The MEA posted a statement in response to a query on Beijing's role: "We are deeply disappointed that once again, a single country has blocked worldwide consensus on the designation of an acknowledged terrorist and leader of UN-designated terrorist organisation, Masood Azhar".

After the Pulwama suicide car-bombing by the JeM that killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers on February 14, France is spearheading a renewed effort with British and the U.S. backing to put sanctions on Azhar. Several American think-tank members slammed China for its decision to delay the Azhar listing. China will continue to communicate and work with relevant parties in a responsible manner so as to properly resolve this matter.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said earlier on Wednesday that "discussions on this issue must be conducted following the rules and procedures of the U.N. Security Council and its subsidiary bodies".

China has in the past said that it did not have enough information to list Azhar.

On February 26, India staged an air raid on a camp inside Pakistan that it said belonged to JeM.

Not the least would have been to ensure that Pakistan isn't isolated in the worldwide community - "iron brother" Beijing stands by Islamabad through the thick of global pressure to act on the JeM and Azhar.

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