Masood Azhar 'Global Terrorist': Does the designation realistically mean anything? And what should India do now?
UN has blacklisted the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) head after China lifted its restrictions on the move. However, what does it actually mean for India?
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In election season, political pundits are terming this a victory for India, reflecting its diplomatic clout and political will.
The Chowkidar stands tall. There will be lots of chest thumping and wallowing in glory. National fervour will be the proverbial cherry on the cake in election season.
But, under the rhetoric, what exactly did we get?
It is okay for political parties to try and wring out every last bit of advantage in an apparently 'swingless' elections. Besides, India's diplomatic clout has improved with time, and political will does not seem in short supply for now. But the issue is what exactly will this designation achieve? Nothing in the short term, very little in the long term, and that too will demand huge efforts and resolve.
Hafiz Saeed and his organisations have shown remarkable alacrity in changing registered names in Pakistan, obviously with the help of the neighbour's deep state. Do we have any reason to believe that it would be much different when it comes to Masood Azhar?
Has the world seen anything in the last quarter of a century to even hope that Pakistan will ever act against terrorists?
United Nations Security Council designated Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a 'global terrorist' on Wednesday. (File photo: Reuters)
For the Pak deep state, Masood Azhar is a valued resource. A resource that Pakistan uses — and will continue to use — against India and other neighbouring states. The entire regional foreign policy of Pakistan is based on pushing in terror operatives to shape opinion and decisions.
It was not the IAF jets over Balakot that forced Pakistan to demonstrate token actions against proscribed groups — it was the looming FATF 'blacklisting' when the body meets in June this year. A FATF blacklist would virtually destroy Pakistan's economy and international bodies would enforce humiliating conditions for a bailout. The perineal shield of the eternal ally will not work. The ally has already invested a huge amount in Pakistan with little hope for any economic returns and Pakistan as a vassal would mean a free corridor for fanatics into the trouble-free heartlands of the Northern neighbour.
So what can India do? Keeping the costs high could help. But given that Pakistan is a nuclear power, this option will obviously have certain limitations. Removing Pakistan from the MFN list is definitely a good step. The slew of humanitarian visas must stop. India should look to shut off all trade with Pakistan — the impact will not be too hard on India.
Lobbying for an international, comprehensive convention against terrorism sounds good — but please remember even an effective one, that is, if India manages to secure one, would only ensure increased reputational cost for supporters of terrorism.
Sadly, the neighbour has got no 'reputation' to lose.