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Masood Azhar's Shield to Expire Today? China Hints it is Ready to Relent on Global Terrorist Tag

If the things do move in the right direction, it would be a major diplomatic win for India as China has been shielding Azhar since 2008 for years to protect its ally Pakistan.


Updated:May 1, 2019, 5:13 PM IST

As the United Nation Security Council’s 1267 sanctions committee meets on Tuesday, China has indicated that it might lift the technical hold on the blacklisting of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and pave the way for a global ban on him.

China had put a technical hold in March on a fresh proposal to impose a ban on the head of Pakistan-based JeM, which claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack. It was for the fourth time that China had blocked Azhar's listing as a global terrorist by the UN.

According to sources, although the hold is valid for six months, the backers of the proposal of the ban are “optimistic” of a conclusion soon, hinting that it may lift it well before the date.

If the things do move in the right direction, it would be a major diplomatic win for India as China has been shielding Azhar since 2008 for years to protect its ally Pakistan. The timing of it, bang in the middle of elections, would also help the national security narrative set by the BJP as its poll plank.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing on Monday that the issue would be “properly” resolved after being asked whether Beijing has reportedly consented to lift its technical hold on a fresh proposal moved by France, the UK and the US.

The US, the UK and France this time stepped up pressure on Beijing by taking the issue directly to the powerful UN Security Council (UNSC).

Though China can exercise its veto power as a permanent member of the UNSC, Beijing has staunchly opposed the issue to be taken to the apex UN body as it has to publicly explain its stand on its reservations to list Azhar, whose group JeM has already been designated as terror outfit by UN, before exercising its veto.

China has accused the US of scuttling progress to resolve the issue by taking it to the UNSC and insisted that it should be resolved at the 1267 Committee whose proceedings are not publicised.

"Regarding the listing issue in the 1267 Committee, we have expressed our position many times and I just want to stress two points," Geng said answering a number of questions on Azhar's issue. "First, we support the listing issue being settled within the 1267 committee through dialogue and consultation and I believe this is the consensus of most members. Second, the relevant consultations are going on within the committee and has achieved some progress. Third, I believe, with the joint efforts of all parties, this issue can be properly resolved," he said.

The British High Commissioner to India had last week given the first clear indication that talks with China are headed in the right direction.

Sir Dominic Asquith had said, "We are waiting to see if the country that has been blocking it will lift objections. We have been strong supporters of the listing. We hope to get that conclusion shortly."

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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