There’s a new bid at UNSC to blacklist Masood Azhar. Here’s all you need to know about it

On Wednesday, March 27, the US circulated a draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to blacklist Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) Chief Masood Azhar. The move comes after China put India’s proposal for the same on “technical hold” earlier in March.

The US has made a fresh attempt to blacklist Masood Azhar as a global terrorist  in the UNSC.

India made a similar proposal two weeks after JeM took responsibility for the terrorist attack in Pulwama that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans.

However, China put India’s proposal on “technical hold”, the third time it blocked India’s attempts to blacklist Azhar at the UNSC.

The Hindustan Times (HT) reports that Pakistani back channels have asked China not to stall India’s bid if New Delhi agrees to de-escalate military tensions at the border.

Pakistan also asked India to engage in peaceful dialogue on “all outstanding issues, including Kashmir”.

The source quoted in HT also says that China has conveyed Pakistan’s conditions to the US, but the American delegation is arguing that Indo-Pak relations are irrelevant to blacklisting Azhar as a global terrorist.

In March, Deputy Spokesperson for the US Department of State Robert Palladino also said Azhar meets the criteria to be blacklisted; this means he has links to ISIS and al-Qaeda.

“I would say that the United States and China share a mutual interest in achieving regional stability and peace, and that failure to designate Azhar would run counter to this goal,” said Palladino.

India and China disagree on Azhar

JeM, as a group, was blacklisted for terrorism in the UNSC Sanctions Committee in 2001. However, its chief, Azhar, managed to escape that label.

India first attempted to blacklist Masood Azhar after the 2016 Pathankot base attack. The second bid was after the 2017 attack on the CRPF camp.

However, China shot down both proposals; it said there was no concrete evidence against Azhar. It also claimed that it was doing its best to communicate with India and Pakistan.

“China will continue to communicate and work with relevant parties in a responsible manner so as to properly resolve this matter,” said Chinese authorities.

China blocked India’s third proposal, placing it on “technical hold”; this proposal even had Australia, Bangladesh, US, and France’s backing.

Experts have suggested that China’s strong ties to Pakistan are the root cause of its actions against India in the UNSC.

The two countries conduct $62 billion in trade through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that allows China to bypass India and gain access to the Middle East and Africa.

The Dalai Lama receiving asylum in India is another point of contention between India and China, because the latter views him as a threat to its national unity after he voiced support for Tibetan autonomy.

What now?

The New York Times reports that US’ draft resolution imposes a travel ban and asset freeze on Azhar. It also states that JeM’s terror attack was the event that escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.

Moreover, proving that Azhar meets the criteria for a global terrorist, the US says al-Qaeda has funded, trained, and supplied arms to JeM.

It aims “to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers, and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice”.

Within this week, China must explain to the UNSC why it placed India’s proposal on “technical hold”. Following that, the UNSC will take up US’ draft resolution.

With the country in election season, politicians are likely to enjoy public support if they take a hard line on security and Pakistan, because the capture of Captain Abhinandan and death of the CRPF soldiers were emotional issues for the India public.

However, Indians may also become emboldened to act against minorities if candidates and parties politicise Indo-Pak tensions.

So, Pakistan’s conditions of India demilitarising is a good suggestion for the two nuclear-armed countries; it should calm tempers enough for them to arrive at a mutually beneficial compromise.

Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius

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