Not a good sign

China has blocked four bids in ten years to get Masood Azhar listed as a UN-designated Global Terrorist. Experts say, such an act of irresponsibility by a major power raises questions of its suitability to play a constructive part in regional and world affairs including in Afghanistan which shares boarder with China and Pakistan, where a peace deal is being sought with Taliban for preparation of US troops withdrawal from that country.

China scuttled a serious move in UNSC to designate JeM Chief as an international terrorist. This is an expression of wooly diplomacy and antagonism on the question of peace and war. Masood is the founder and the leader of JEM, and he meets the criteria for designation by the United Nations. JEM has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a threat to regional stability and peace in South Asia.

China was the only country ironically to oppose on the issue of Masood Azhar at the UNSC. The resolution was authored by the US, France and UK. The co-sponsors included Europians, Austrlia, Japan, South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation (SAARC) members, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives. China move to hold the listing of Masood as an international Terrorist is inconsistent with its own goals of combating terrorism and furthering regional stability in South Asian region. China’s move has frustrated the other members of UNSC.

Outraged by China blocking for the fourth time a move to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist, responsible UNSC members warned they “may be forced to pursue other actions” at the Security Council if Beijing continued with this policy.

Beijing previously put a technical hold on similar proposals at the UNSC thrice.

If China continues to block this designation, responsible member-states may be forced to pursue other actions at the Security Council. It shouldn’t have to come to that,” say Security Council diplomats- in an unusually tough warning to China.

The diplomats gave a sense of the feeling of other members of the Security Council after China blocked the move to designate Azhar a global terrorist.

In the aftermath of the Pulwama (Kashmir)terrorist attack, three permanent members of Security Council the US, France, and the UK had moved a resolution to designate Azhar a global terrorist. Except for China, which wields veto power in the Security Council, all other UNSC members were on board with the move before the al-Qaeda (1267) Sanctions Committee.

The diplomats have slammed Pakistan for depending on China to protect terrorist groups and leaders that operate from its soil. Pakistan has quite often depended on China to protect it from the listing of Pakistan-based terrorist groups and individuals in the UN (1267 ) sanctions committee.

India is hugely disappointed over China’s decision, but MEA said it will “pursue all available avenues” to bring to justice terrorist leaders involved in the attack on Indians.

Not entirely unexpected, but nonetheless a slap to India’s face after last month’s bloody suicide-bombing in Kashmir. It has raised serious questions about the benefits of Modi’s photo-op diplomacy with Xi Jinping.

This one won’t be undone by another romantic stroll through Wuhan, indicating that such a move by Beijing would only escalate the tension between India and China.

China’s move to hold the listing is inconsistent with its own stated goals of combatting terrorism and furthering regional stability in South Asia.

This is the fourth time that China has placed a hold on this listing. China should not prevent the Committee from doing the job the Security Council has entrusted it to do,” say the security council diplomats.

Trump administration had said that Masood Azhar meets the criteria for designation by the United Nations. Our views on Jaish-e-Mohammad and its founder are well known. “JeM is a UN-designated terrorist group,” State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters.

The case for designating Masood Azhar the leader of a group the UN already calls an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization is undeniable. I would say that the United States and China share a mutual interest in achieving regional stability and peace and that a failure to designate Azhar would run counter to this goal,” Palladino said.

Several American think-tank members slammed China for its decision delaying the Azhar listing. Congressman Brad Sherman described the Chinese move as unacceptable.

Today, China doubled down on a very bad bet. It blocked yet another round of UN sanctions on Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar weeks after the group claimed credit for the deadliest terror attack in Kashmir,” Jeff Smith from the Heritage Foundation said. Once again, China has blocked the UN from imposing sanctions on Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, which carried out the Pulwama attack in India in February. This is unacceptable,”he said, adding “I urge Beijing to allow the UN to place sanctions on Azhar, the leader of a UN-recognized terrorist organization.”

China is playing a dangerous game the fallout of which can spell doom for the rest of the world.

(Ashok Bhan is Senior Advocate and International Law Expert)

Ashok Bhan, ashokbhan@rediffmail.com