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Will China block UN action against Masood Azhar again?

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Will China block UN action against Masood Azhar again?

The proposal to designate the chief of the Pakistan-based terrorist group was moved by US, UK and France after the Pulwama suicide bombing, for which JeM claimed responsibility.

Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar will reportedly stand banned by 3 pm on March 13 if no objection is raised by any member state of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) at the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

The proposal to designate the chief of the Pakistan-based terrorist group was moved by US, UK and France after the Pulwama suicide bombing, for which JeM claimed responsibility.

This is the fourth time that a proposal has been moved against Masood Azhar since the Pathankot attack. In all the past instances, it was China that put a "technical hold" on the proposal. According to sources, Beijing contends that there isn't enough evidence or information to link Masood Azhar to the already UN-proscribed outfit JeM.

India's former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Asoke Mukherjee, explained the process. "If the silence period during which any member of the Security Council can raise objection[s] expires on 13 March then Masood Azhar will be included in the 1267 Sanctions List. This is endorsed by the Council after the Sanctions Committee puts him in the List," he said.

Members of the Sanctions Committee and the Security Council are the same 15 countries.

"All that a member state has to do is fax or send a letter of objection to the Council. There is no meeting that will be held for this. If there is no objection then after 3 pm Azhar will automatically stand banned or listed which will be followed by a press release from the Council. But, if a technical hold is put on the proposal then there will be no formal announcement of the same," said an official privy to the process.

AUDIO EVIDENCE

Sources tell India Today TV that this time, India has provided evidence in the form of tapes to link Masood Azhar to JeM. In the dossier handed over to the UNSC, audio tapes have been submitted of Masood Azhar speaking as the Jaish chief.

Despite that, there seems to be very little change in the response of China to the proposal. In a media briefing by the Chinese foreign ministry, when asked about India's appeal and China's stand, spokesman Lu Kang said, "First I would like to say that the UNSC as a main body of the UN has strict standards and rules of procedures. Some reports have knowledge of inside information the UNSC. I don't know that can be counted as an evidence."

China also maintains that their stand on the issue is "consistent" and "clear" -- that the solution to this problem is though talks.

"China's position on the designation of a terrorist by the 1267 Sanctions Committee is consistent and clear. China adopted a responsible attitude, follows the rules of the procedure of the committee and participated in the discussions in a responsible manner. Only through discussions can we come up with a responsible solution," he said.

'THINGS HAVE CHANGED AFTER PULWAMA'

Speaking to India Today TV, India's former envoy to China and Pakistan, Gautam Bambawala said, "The position of China has always been that there is not enough evidence and information against the man to put him under 1267. But things have changed after Pulwama and India's reaction to that. There has been enough reason for India to defend itself, protect its people. The momentum right now is with India. And, if China were to block the move again then they are not only up against India but also all those countries who are supporting India."

This comes days after Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou travelled to Pakistan and held talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and other officials.

It was just after the minister's visit that Pakistan's DG, ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor denied the presence of JeM in Pakistan despite an admission by Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi -- who, in an interview, had not only said that Masood Azhar was in Pakistan and that they were in touch with him, but also didn't object to the interviewer referring to Azhar as JeM chief.

India on Saturday said all the UNSC members were aware of the JeM training camps and the presence of Azhar in Pakistan, and urged the nations to designate him as a global terrorist.

But there are questions regarding the designations and the action taken thereafter by Pakistan. Once he is listed, Pakistan will have to implement three sanctions on him -- a travel ban, a financial freeze and an arms embargo -- as he is in its national jurisdiction.

Ambassador Mukherjee said, "The experience we have of Hafiz Saeed on the Sanctions List shows that Pakistan may not implement the obligation to apply the sanctions on Azhar. In that case the Security Council has to force Pakistan to comply."

Explaining why China's role becomes important, Ambassador Mukherjee says it's beyond just the process of designation. The P5 have an important role in implementation as well, the reason why UN reforms are essential.

"Under Article 27.3 of the UN Charter only the current five permanent members can ensure compliance by Pakistan. That is why we need to depend on them including China. That is also why India has to become a permanent member with equal rights in decision making by the Security Council," explained Asoke Mukherjee.

Meanwhile, hectic diplomatic engagements are on to convince Beijing to side with India on the latest proposal. US has played a key role along with France to steer the conversations and engagements on this designation. India has also reached out to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey -- all close partners of Pakistan.

New Delhi also remains engaged with Beijing directly to prove the connection of JeM with Masood Azhar

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