NEW DELHI : In what may make India re-evaluate its options, China again blocked the proposal to get Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar designated by the United Nations Security Council as a terrorist.

With the deadline for raising objections to the proposal ending at 12.30am (India time) on Thursday; China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council put a “technical hold" on the same and asked “more time to examine" the proposal, PTI newswire agency reported.

Listing of Azhar as a terrorist would have meant a significant diplomatic victory for India and resulted in restrictions on his travel and freezing of his assets.

China recorded its “technical hold" with the ‘1267 sanctions committee’ that aims to impose strictures against individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. China had earlier blocked, at the behest of Pakistan, several attempts by India, France, the UK, and the US to sanction Azhar under UN Resolution 1267 for links to Al-Qaeda.

Without naming China, India's permanent representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin in a tweet said, “1 big state holds up, again ..." and added, “Grateful to the many states - big & small - who in unprecedented numbers, joined as co-sponsors of the effort."

India was perturbed about whether China would let the process conclude or place a “technical hold" on it—as it has done several times in the past. Even the international support for India post the Pulwama attack as well as its strike on Balakot; couldn’t tilt the balance this time.

ANI reported about India’s ministry of external affairs response that stated, “We are disappointed by this outcome."

“We will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice."

India has been working the diplomatic channels at the United Nations, with the proposal to collar Azhar whose group JeM has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack that killed 40 Indian security personnel initiated by France, the UK and the US. The unwavering Chinese stand in Pakistan’s favour comes in the backdrop of US under secretary of state for political affairs David Hale and India’s foreign secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale holding foreign office consultations on Tuesday.

China’s stand follows despite India and China slowly mending ties after a 73-day military standoff in 2017. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met four times last year including in April 2018 in Wuhan in a bid to stabilize ties rocked by the standoff. There were high level visits to India including by the Chinese defence and foreign ministers as part of the efforts to mend ties.

Press Trust of India on Wednesday quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang as hinting China may once again block the move, stating only “the solution that is acceptable to all sides" is conducive for resolving the issue.

China has historically used Pakistan to try to thwart India’s rise as a challenger to China’s dominance in Asia. China considers Pakistan an all-weather ally, describing their friendship as “higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the deepest sea in the world, and sweeter than honey".

The Chinese support to Pakistan has been attributed to a host of reasons such as China and Pakistan being “all-weather friends" to Pakistan’s support for China within groupings like the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and others like the Non-Aligned Movement where China has no representation. Also, India’s growing proximity to the US, sheltering Dalai Lama, and Pakistan’s role in China’s One Belt One Road strategy are said to be the reasons for China’s protecting Pakistan’s interests.

While there was earlier dismay in India that Beijing did not condemn the terrorist attack “in Kashmir" in its statement on the Pulwama attack, New Delhi has taken note of the fact that China had backed the UNSC resolution condemning the terrorist attack in Kashmir.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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