New Delhi: In a move certain to rile India, China has again extended by three months its technical hold on a West-backed proposal in the United Nations (UN) to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist.
This is at least the fourth such instance of China blocking moves by India and Western nations to get Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN.
The proposal, backed by the US, France and Britain, was first brought to the UN Security Council in January and blocked by China in February. The Chinese action comes in the midst of a tense military standoff between India and China at Doklam in Bhutan.
The aim of the proposal is to designate Azhar, who India calls the mastermind of the 2 January 2016 Pathankot attack besides other terror attacks in India, a global terrorist.
The technical hold put on Azhar’s designation by China in February would have ended on 2 August and if Beijing had not extended the hold, the JeM chief would have automatically been designated a terrorist, a PTI report said.
China’s latest action means that the hold on the proposal to ban Azhar now extends to 2 November, the report added.
As a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, China has repeatedly blocked India’s move to blacklist the JeM chief under the Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.
Last year, in March, China was the only member in the 15-nation UN Security Council to block an application moved by India to designate Azhar a terrorist and place him on the 1267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.
JeM has already been blacklisted by the UN Security Council. 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 Parliament, in the UN blacklist will mean his travel will be restricted and assets frozen.
JeM terrorists are also 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, after being hijacked en route to New Delhi from Kathmandu on 24 December 1999.