China on Wednesday put on hold a request by Britain, France and the United States to add the leader of a Pakistan-based Islamist group behind a suicide attack in Kashmir to the UN terror blacklist, diplomats said.
It was the fourth time that the UN Security Council was considering a request to put Masood Azhar, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad, on the UN sanctions blacklist, which would subject him to a global travel ban, an assets freeze and an arms embargo.
Jaish-e-Mohammad has claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops and which was condemned by the Security Council.
In a note, China said it needed more time to examine the sanctions request targeting
Azhar and asked for a technical hold which could last up to nine months, diplomats said.
‘It appears as though the Chinese have been protecting Pakistan’s priorities on counter-terrorism in the committee and so they are Pakistan’s protector,’ said a Security Council diplomat, who asked not to be named.
China has blocked three previous attempts at the committee on sanctions against al-Qaeda and IS-linked groups to blacklist the JeM leader. The group itself was added to the terror list in 2001.
The United States, France and Britain are ‘actively considering’ a new attempt, this time with a draft Security Council resolution that would designate Azhar as a terrorist, the diplomat added.
‘The case is compelling to list Azhar,’ said the diplomat. ‘Certain countries are not going to stand for this. This is the fourth time now.’
China defended its decision by saying it was upholding a ‘responsible attitude’ and seeking to deal ‘with this issue with relevant parties via thorough consultation,’ said the Chinese mission to the United Nations.
‘China believes that only a plan adopted by all can offer a long-term solution,’ said the mission, quoting foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang.
India said Thursday it was ‘disappointed’ by China again delaying a bid to blacklist the leader of a Pakistan-based extremist group that claimed a massive suicide bombing in Kashmir last month.
In a statement, the Indian foreign ministry said it ‘was disappointed by the outcome’, adding it would continue to pursue all avenues to make sure ‘terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice’.
China’s decision was the top news across Indian media on Thursday, with the Indian Express headlining its report - ‘Jaish chief gets Great Wall of China’.
India’s main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi used the opportunity to mock prime minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking re-election in a national ballot starting next month.
‘Weak Modi is scared of Xi. Not a word comes out of his mouth when
China acts against India,’ Gandhi tweeted, referring to Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Regional rivals China and India have longstanding territorial disputes but Modi and Xi have tried to patch up ties, banking on their personal chemistry to smoothen differences.
China’s move on Azhar also triggered a storm of anti-Chinese sentiment on Twitter with #BoycottChinaProduct attracting hundreds of tweets.
China is India’s biggest trading partner, but the trade imbalance is skewed heavily in favour of Beijing.
An influential Hindu nationalist group and an Indian traders body called on Thursday for a boycott of Chinese goods, to slap Beijing for blocking a move to put a Pakistani extremist leader on a UN terrorist list, reports Reuters.
The Confederation of All India Traders, which represents 70 million traders, said it would burn Chinese goods on March 19 to ‘teach a lesson’ to China.
‘The time has come when China should suffer due to its proximity with Pakistan,’ CAIT said in a statement. ‘The CAIT has launched a national campaign to boycott Chinese goods among the trading community of the country, calling the traders not to sell or buy Chinese goods.’
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