India looks to corner China on Jaish chief Masood Azhar

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As foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and NSA Ajit Doval look to meet their Chinese counterparts next week, India has mounted a diplomatic offensive to corner Beijing for its decision to again block a UN ban on Pathankot attack accused and Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.

Addressing a UNSC open debate on threats from terrorism, India has demanded that the secret veto provision in the al-Qaida, Taliban & ISIS Sanctions Committees be revisited to prevent its misuse by members. The procedures of unanimity and anonymity resulted in lack of accountability, India’s permanent representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said in his address. China has used the same to block the ban on Azhar.

Official sources said the issue of Azhar will dominate the agenda of meetings which Swaraj and Doval will have with Chinese leaders next week. While Swaraj is expected to have a bilateral meeting with her counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of RIC trilateral in Moscow on April 18, Doval will meet state councilor Yang Jiechi in Beijing three days later.

While India had taken up the Azhar issue with China at a fairly high level, as foreign secretary S Jaishankar had said earlier, in the absence of any response from Beijing, the government is now looking to Swaraj and Doval to convince the Chinese that their intransigence on Azhar would hurt attempts by the international community to fight terrorism.

Akbaruddin said each of the 15 members on the committees now had a veto and none except these 15 members were told who had wielded the veto in a specific instance.

“The general membership of the UN is never ever formally informed of how and why requests for listing terrorists are not acceded to,”Akbaruddin said. “Counter-terror mechanisms such as the sanctions committees that act on behalf of the international community need to build trust, not engender impunity by the use of this form of a ‘hidden’ veto,” he added. Akbaruddin’s remarks come against the backdrop of China once again blocking a bid by India to ban Azhar following January’s terror attack on the Pathankot airbase. China had at the last moment stopped the UN sanctions committee from designating Azhar a terrorist, maintaining that the case ‘did not meet Security Council’s requirements”.

The UN had banned the JeM in 2001 but India’s efforts for slapping sanctions on Azhar after the 2008 Mumbai attacks also did not fructify as veto-wielding China did not let the request go through, apparently at Pakistan’s behest.Akbaruddin said the UN was uniquely placed to provide the platform necessary for real cooperation and coordination in the common fight against terrorism but the Security Council alone could not sufficiently respond to tackling terrorism.

“This cooperation needs to encompass norm-setting, rule-making as well as practical and specific ways to counter terrorism. It is for this reason we feel that the actions of the Security Council alone, no matter how effective in responding to identified threats, cannot provide a sufficient response to the global scourge of terror,” he said.

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