China's hold on Azhar's UN terror listing to lapse soon

India had made a strong call for reform of the \'subterranean universe\' of the UN Security Council\'s sanctions regimes.

Published: 27th September 2016 01:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2016 03:33 PM   |  A+A-


Mulana Masood Azhar, a leading Pakistani Islamic cleric, arrives at Karachi Press Club to address a press conference 04 February 2000.| File/AFP


UNITED NATIONS: The six-month validity of the technical hold imposed by China on India's bid to get JeM chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN will "lapse" soon and the Pathankot attack mastermind could be sanctioned if Beijing does not block the move again.

On March 31 this year, China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, had blocked India's move to put a ban on the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader under the Sanctions Committee of the Council. China was the sole member in the 15-nation UN organ to put a hold on India's application with all other 14 members of the Council supporting New Delhi's bid to place Azhar on the 1267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.

Sources have said that the six-month validity of the technical hold is set to "lapse" in about a week-10 days time and unless China again seeks to bloc or veto the resolution on some pretext, the resolution could stand passed automatically, designating Azhar as a terrorist.

The other 14 UNSC members have already supported India's bid and the lapse of the technical hold, coupled with no further objection from China, will essentially mean that there is no opposition to the demand to get Azhar listed under the sanctions committee.

Sources said that in the current environment of "growing global crescendo against terrorism", "can China still stand up alone" and block the designation of an individual who heads an organisation that was listed as a terrorist group by the UN in 2001". They said a possibility could be that after the lapse of the technical hold, China could seek more time on Azhar's application, in effect allowing the technical hold to continue.

However, China could be questioned by other UNSC members on such an extension, sources said, adding that other member nations in the UNSC could ask as to why Beijing needs more time even after getting a six-month time frame due to its technical hold. Sources said India is not alone in its bid to get Azhar listed as the US, UK and France had "co-sponsored" the resolution seeking Azhar's listing.

During the current UN General Assembly session, over 140 nations that have addressed the General Debate have voiced strong condemnation for the growing scourge of terrorism and vowed to combat it. Sources said against this backdrop can a nation (China) decide to go against the "global consensus" on ramping up efforts to fight terrorism by still going ahead and blocking the bid to get Azhar designated?

India has repeatedly slammed the UN sanctions committee for its failure to designate terrorists saying it is an "anomaly" and a "sheer folly" that the terror groups are proscribed entities under the Sanctions regime but individuals heading them are not listed.

"Is Osama bin Laden separate from Al Qaeda, can they designate Al Qaeda and not bin Laden," sources said. In June this year, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin had said at a Security Council debate that it is "sheer folly" that the new leader of Taliban, a proscribed entity, Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzady is not yet designated as a terrorist individual.

Previously also, India has slammed the UN sanctions committee for taking a "selective approach" in tackling terrorism when the technical hold was put on its application to include Azhar's name on the committee's list of designated terrorists. India had said in April that it finds it "incomprehensible" that while the Pakistan-based JeM was listed in the UN Security Council Committee as far back as 2001 for its known terror activities and links to the al-Qaeda, the designation of the group's main leader, financier and motivator has been put on a technical hold.

India had submitted detailed dossier on Azhar and moved the UNSC 1267 committee following the January 2 Pathankot attacks. In March, India's submission was considered by the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) for technical aspects of the evidence provided.

The technical team then with the support of the US, UK and France had sent it to all the members. All were told that if there are no objections, the designation will be announced after the expiry of the deadline. However, hours before the deadline, China requested the committee to hold up the banning of the JeM chief.

"Any listing would have to meet the requirements" for blacklisting, Chinese Permanent Representative to the UN Liu Jieyi had told reporters in April in response to questions over China's decision to place a technical hold on designating Azhar in the UN Sanctions Committee. India had said that the sanctions committee was taking a "selective approach" in tackling terrorism.

India had made a strong call for reform of the "subterranean universe" of the UN Security Council's sanctions regimes, as it criticised the lack of transparency in their functioning and said that the principles of "anonymity and unanimity" adopted by Council members absolve individual members of accountability.

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