New Delhi: In what could potentially be a provocation to the new regime in the White House, China on Tuesday vetoed a US sponsored resolution to designate Pakistan-based militant group chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a terrorist by the United Nations (UN).
Meanwhile India, most affected by terrorism plotted and executed by Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group including the attack by terrorists on the Pathankot airforce station in Punjab on 2 January last year, said it had lodged a protest with China on its veto.
This is not the first time China has vetoed moves to get Azhar designated a terrorist by the UN—Beijing has done this thrice earlier.
The difference is that in the past, the resolution was sponsored by India. This time round, however, the Chinese have blocked a US effort. People familiar with the developments said the US resolution was tabled on 19 January, a day before Donald Trump—who has made many anti-China statements vis-a-vis its trade and economic policies—was sworn in as US president.
The resolution was co-sponsored by Britain and France and the Chinese veto is being viewed in New Delhi as tacitly allowing a globally designated terrorist go free.
“This (Chinese move) proves that this is not an India-Pakistan issue any more. They (the Chinese) are letting a global terrorist whose actions affect India go free," said one of the people familiar with the developments cited above. The reference was to Beijing previously stating that India and Pakistan should sort out differences over Azhar bilaterally.
In New Delhi, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said India had been “informed of this development and the matter has been taken up with the Chinese government."
JeM has already been blacklisted by the UN Security Council. But Azhar is not and China’s blocking of India’s move is seen as a gesture of support for its long-time ally Pakistan. Including the name of Azhar, whose JeM is blamed by India for a series of attacks including the 13 December 2001 attack on India’s parliament, in the UN blacklist will mean his travel will be restricted and assets frozen.
JeM terrorists are suspected to be behind the killing of US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
Azhar was imprisoned by India in 1995 in the high security Kot Bhalwal prison in Jammu but was freed by the Indian government in December 1999 along with two others in return for the safe release of more than 160 passengers of the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 that was flown to then Taliban controlled Afghanistan, highjacked enroute to New Delhi from Kathmandu on 24 December 1999.