UN ban on Masood Azhar: Pakistan is drawing its strength from China

Delhi, India Mar 14, 2019, 12.46 PM(IST) Written By: Major General S B Asthana

File photo of Masood Azhar. Photograph:( AFP )

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The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaida Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, UK and the US

it's not a surprise for any strategist that China has blocked India's bid to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist for the fourth time. China has repeated the old story of putting "technical hold" on the proposal asking for more time. The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaida Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, UK and the US on February 27, days after the fidayeen attack of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) which killed more than 40 CRPF soldiers in Pulwama.

How does it matter for India? 

If the proposal was accepted, it would have amounted to the freezer of JeM assets, future funding and travel ban on Masood Azhar. Realistically, none of these measures would have affected the terror activities of JeM, which has earlier been declared as US-designated terror organisation.

The funding through the unauthorised route is business as usual by attaching some of its members with any nominated social welfare organisation.

In nutshell, India has to continue dealing with terror activities of JeM with or without the imposition of the UNSC ban. India has to show the resolve to deal with JeM itself, for which it has all the options, overt as well as covert, on the table. The UNSC ban on Azhar was thus a symbolic exercise which must continue with similar zeal to rebuild the diplomatic pressure after six months when it can be reconsidered because naming and shaming in UN platform has its own importance.  

How is China affected? 

Chinese considerations in blocking the ban are governed by its own perceived national interest. China has to protect its economic investment in CPEC including its safe future operation and safety of over 5000 workers from terrorist groups, which are controlled by the Pakistan army and ISI. China also wants to retain leverage in terms of Masood Azhar against India for opposing CPEC and BRI. There seems to be an understanding between China and Pakistan for not training ETIM terrorists causing trouble in Xinjiang province of China and a promise to look the other way when Chinese cause atrocities on Uighur Muslims. In any case, Pakistan’s relation with China is that of a client state being protected by the dragon. China was also not too happy with Indian resolve exhibited in air strikes in Balakot.

This decision of China is marred with some risks as well. China after this action remains isolated with Pakistan on the issue of terrorism and does not project itself as a world power in making by this petty politics. It has also pushed India few notches closer to the western world, risking a promising Indian market.

Options for India   

It seems evident that by blocking the bid to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar designated a global terrorist China has much more to lose than India. India has to continue with the policy of offensive defence with all options to get rid of the terrorists emanating from Pakistan soil and continue the proxy war in India.

India needs to develop the capacity for the same; hence start with steps to enhance its ‘Comprehensive National Power’ (CNP) because strategic partnerships will have to be developed with like-minded nations. 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)

Major General S B Asthana

Major General S B Asthana had been an Infantry General with 40 years of defence experience at national and international level.