Hope better sense prevails
Earlier this week Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said New Delhi is hopeful that China will agree with its position on getting Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the United Nations. China has been using its veto powers in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to keep Azhar off the designated list of terrorists through a “technical hold”, despite clear evidence of his role in the attack on Parliament in 2001, Pathankot airbase in January 2016 and the Indian Army camp in Uri late last year. New Delhi has remained firm in its bid to apprise the UNSC’s 1267 committee that Azhar has close links to the Taliban and consequently to Al Qaeda. The “technical hold” placed at Beijing's behest gives the committee "more time" to deliberate on the notorious terrorist. Azhar's name on the list would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban. China could let the "hold" lapse, and the ban would then automatically apply to Azhar as the sanctions under UNSC Resolution 1267 would come into effect. That would bring both China and India on the same page on the battle against terrorism. Observers, however, argue that China could also convert the "hold" into a "block, which would formally prevent Azhar from coming under sanctions. It would indicate China's intention to support Pakistan at all costs, including terrorist leaders, and in contravention of their official stance against global terror. While the Jaish-e-Mohammed had been listed as a terrorist organisation since 2001, the group’s chief and motivator has suffered no sanctions. Reports indicate that 14 out of 15 UNSC members want action against Azhar, with only China holding out. Allied with their economic interests is an underlying security angle. In the face of transnational terrorism sparked by ISIS, China’s security establishment has thought it wise to use regional clients like Pakistan to contain the threat. As the Americans have found out, using Pakistan as a buffer to contain transnational terror is a strategy fraught with high risk. India must find a way to drag China away from this foreign policy misadventure. There have been reports of a growing tide of fighters from its troubled Xinjiang province to jihadist groups in the Middle East and Central Asia. Pakistan’s track record of using “non-state actors” to fulfil their strategic goals as they do in India, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh will come back to haunt the Chinese. Until better sense prevails, the Chinese government will continue to behave in a manner inimical to India’s security interests.