New Delhi: The US on Thursday introduced a resolution in the UN Security Council (UNSC) to get Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar listed as a terrorist, two weeks after China stalled a similar effort, leading to a sharp exchange between Washington and Beijing.
The US resolution, seen as forcing China’s hand on terrorism, was co-sponsored by the UK and France and circulated at the UNSC. It aims to designate Azhar a terrorist and subject him to an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze, a person familiar with the matter said.
The resolution was described by Indian diplomats and analysts as unprecedented, as it is seen to support India’s position of terrorism. New Delhi has long argued that Pakistan-based groups, such as the JeM, foment terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and that the violence there is not part of a freedom struggle as Pakistan projects it.
The JeM has claimed responsibility for the 14 February Pulwama attack that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in the South Kashmir region. The attack had sharply raised tensions between India and Pakistan.
France had then moved a proposal to get Azhar listed as a terrorist by the UN’s 1267 sanctions committee that has proscribed terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
The proposal, which required consensus according to the norms of the 1267 committee, was supported by 14 of the 15 members. China, however, stalled the move by not supporting the proposal. This was seen as being done at the behest of Pakistan. China had prevented the committee from sanctioning Azhar in 2016 and 2017.
In the UNSC, a resolution must get nine votes in favour and must not be vetoed by China, Russia, the US, France or the UK to pass. It was not immediately clear when the draft resolution to list Azhar as a terrorist would be put to vote.
If China does decide to use its veto power, “it will be in full public glare", said the person mentioned above. In the case of the 1267 sanctions committee, the proposal was debated behind closed doors.
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Evidence that the US was publicly calling out China on its approach to terrorism came in the form of a tweet by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo. “The world cannot afford China’s shameful hypocrisy toward Muslims. On one hand, China abuses more than a million Muslims at home, but on the other, it protects violent Islamic terrorist groups from sanctions at the UN," Pompeo’s post said.
China urged the US not to forcefully move a draft resolution at UNSC to designate Azhar a global terrorist, PTI reported.
“This is not in line with resolution of the issue through dialogue and negotiations. This has reduced the authority of the committee as an anti-terrorism body of the UNSC and this is not conducive to solidarity and only complicates the issue," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.
In a related development, Pakistan on Thursday dismissed a dossier given by India in the wake of the Pulwama attack. “While 54 detained individuals are being investigated, no details linking them to Pulwama have been found so far," the Pakistan foreign ministry said in a statement. “Similarly, the 22 pin locations shared by India have been examined. No such camps exist," it said.