India has expressed disappointment over neighboring China’s decision to once more impede its push for blacklisting a Pakistani militant leader accused of attacks on its territory.
With Washington’s support, New Delhi has been trying to include Maulana Masood Azhar on a United Nations sanctions list of groups and individuals with ties to Al-Qaeda. India blames Azhar for orchestrating a deadly attack on its parliament in 2002 and another one on an airbase last year.
Beijing, a close ally of Islamabad, however, has repeatedly blocked New Delhi’s efforts to blacklist Azhar. Security council member China has cited a lack of consensus for holding the ban but India rejects such claims.
In a statement on November 2, India’s Foreign Ministry said it was “deeply disappointed that once again, a single country has blocked international consensus on the designation of an acknowledged terrorist and leader of a UN-designated terrorist organization, Masood Azhar".
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying recently said there were clear rules for listing a person or group as a terrorist.
“As for the listing application by the relevant country [India], there are disagreements. China put the technical hold so as to allow for more time to deliberate on this matter. To our regret, the committee so far has yet to reach consensus,” she told journalists.
Beijing says it will move forward with the application only once all UN Security Council members are in complete agreement. "China always maintains that on the listing matter, the 1267 Committee [Security Council Committee] shall uphold the principle of objectivity, impartiality, and professionalism, and make its decisions by consensus among its members on the basis of solid evidence,” Hua said.
Azhar, the leader of the banned hard-line Jaish-e Mohammad militant group, has been a longtime foe of India’s. He was arrested in Srinagar, the capital of India-administered Kashmir, in the mid-1990s. But he was released in December 1999 in exchange for the passengers of a hijacked Indian airliner.
His fate has now become a thorny issue in relations between regional giants and rivals China and India.
New Delhi worries Beijing will back its "all-weather" friend, and its archrival, Islamabad.
"India strongly believes that double standards and selective approaches will only undermine the international community’s resolve to combat terrorism," India's Foreign Ministry said.
While under pressure Islamabad has repeatedly put Azhar under house arrest or protective custody, his group has generally been spared from the large-scale military operations or harsh crackdowns that Pakistani Taliban, Baloch separatists, and some other militant groups have endured during the past decade.
In an explosive revelation last year, Pakistani daily Dawn revealed that Beijing has quietly questioned Islamabad’s motives in preventing Azhar’s blacklisting.
“Chinese authorities have conveyed their willingness to keep putting on technical hold a UN ban on Jaish-e Mohammad leader Masood Azhar; they have questioned the logic of doing so repeatedly,” the paper quoted then Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, now Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington, as telling Pakistan’s political and military leaders.
Pakistan’s powerful military, however, rejected the story as a fabrication and pushed for an investigation. Ultimately, several senior officials lost their jobs because of the controversy.
– with reporting by Reuters, VOA, and Dawn.com