China finally relents as UN designates Pak-based Masood Azhar a global terrorist

Masood Azhar, Pakistan-based JeM chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind. (Photo courtesy: NDTV)

(, May03’19) – The United Nations has on May 1 finally been able to add Masood Azhar, the leader of a Pakistan-based Islamist group, to its list of global terrorists after China, which had kept blocking the move for the last 10 years, finally relented to pressure from others led by the United States, France and Britain.

The UN sanctions committee on the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda has announced in a press release the designation of Azhar, founding-leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), over his ties to Al-Qaeda. The decision means Azhar has been hit by an international assets freeze, a ban on global travel and an arms embargo. JeM itself has been on the UN terror list since 2001.

JeM most recently claimed responsibility for the Feb 14 attack in the Indian territory of Kashmir that killed 40 Indian paramilitary troops.

China had blocked three previous attempts at the sanctions committee to blacklist Azhar and put a technical hold on a fourth request from Britain, France and the United States in March.

The latest request was again submitted to the committee last week and China this time did not oppose the move to blacklist Azhar by the May 1 deadline. A decision to add individuals or groups to the UN terror list is taken by consensus in the committee.

India and other nations had been holding continuous negotiations with China to clear the way for including Azhar’s name in the UN’s sanctioned list of terrorists.

Things took a turn after US warned China that it will take the matter to the UN Security Council. Escalating the matter from the 1267 Sanctions Committee, where one couldn’t even speak on who was blocking the move, to the UNSC would have led to a public debate where Beijing would stand exposed for helping an internationally infamous terrorist, reported May 1.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told an election rally on May 1 that the decision was “late, but it’s the right thing”, and described it as a “success of India’s long-term fight against terrorism”.

But Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal has told reporters in Islamabad that it would be “false and baseless” for India to claim that the sanctions on Azhar were a victory.

France, which slapped unilateral sanctions on Azhar in Mar 2019, welcomed the decision and stressed that it had pushed for many years for the JeM leader to be put on the list.

Also in March, the United States ratcheted up pressure on China by putting forward a draft Security Council resolution to blacklist Azhar — a move that would have forced Beijing to use its veto to block the measure for the sake of its all-weather friend Pakistan.

Some see a compromise by India as a condition for China’s lifting of its continuing block on the UN move. Asaduddin Owaisi, the chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (All India Council of the Union of Muslims) or AIMIM, a recognized regional political party based in the Indian state of Telangana, has described the development as a cosmetic thing. He has wondered why there was no mention of Pathankot, Uri and other terror attacks in the UN listing. This has been cited by Pakistan to paint the UN action as not being against it.

Owaisi has slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi by saying that he must have compromised over the issue and asked what agreement the country has made with China on the matter.

“Blacklisting really happened. But, you are claiming that it is our big victory. (It was) No such victory… What is the agreement the country has made with China on this issue… Whether it is about Tibet?… Why was this whole listing revised? In the first listing, it was mentioned, Uri was mentioned, Pulwama was mentioned, Pathankot was mentioned, attack on parliament was mentioned. Why did we compromise on this,” May 3 quoted Owaisi as asking.


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