China shielding terrorist Masood Azhar is predictable. The world supporting India has been greatly heartening
By choosing to stand with Pakistan's top terrorists, China has chosen to isolate itself from the world. India has emerged as a rallying point and must use this moment well.
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In 2008, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) co-founder Hafiz Saeed was designated a global terrorist under the United Nations Security Council resolution 1267.
Days later, the terrorist was detained, along with many others in Pakistan, under a preventive law called the Maintenance of the Public Order.
The ‘global terrorist’ was put under house arrest.
Saeed challenged his detention in the Lahore High Court. One of the grounds the terrorist used in his defence was that the UN listing did not require the individual to be arrested.
He was set free.
Roaming Free: Designating Hafiz Saeed as a global terrorist has been of little use in stopping him from terror activities. (Source: Reuters)
India has been demanding that Saeed be handed over to it because he masterminded the 2008 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Pakistan has been hoodwinking the world on the false premise that the proof offered against Saeed isn’t sufficient to act against him.
Thus, Saeed is not just roaming free on the streets of Pakistan — but is also known to be running a concerted terror campaign against India. He has since started a group called Difa-e-Pakistan Council, comprising about 40 like-minded groups, with the stated objective of 'protecting Pakistan' from India and the US.
Resolution 1267 therefore doesn’t seem to have achieved anything beyond symbolism.
All that it achieved was putting Saeed under house arrest for disturbing ‘public order’.
What does the imposition of resolution 1267 even mean?
A UNSC tag will subject Masood Azhar to assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo. An assets freeze under the Sanctions Committee requires that all states freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities.
Only loved by China — The global community has overwhelmingly supported India's bid to nail Masood Azhar. (Source: PTI)
But these sanctions discount the fact that in Pakistan, it is the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that itself protects terrorists. The so-called democratically elected governments are nothing more than puppets in the hands of the army and ISI.
Furthermore, China is investing billions of dollars in Pakistan and so is Saudi Arabia. There is no accounting how much of this money is going into funding terror infrastructure that is euphemistically called the ‘deep state’ of Pakistan.
China’s blocking of India’s efforts to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist thus does not really mean a big defeat for India’s counter-terrorism efforts.
The UN had banned the Jaish-e Mohammed (JeM) in 2001 — but India's efforts to ban Masood Azhar after the Mumbai terror attack were not successful as China repeatedly blocked the move, apparently at the behest of Pakistan, its ‘strategic’ ally.
India’s options in the short term are thus limited.
In the long term, however, India needs to build on its own assets — which include strengthening its military procurements and intelligence networks.
As far as China is concerned, undermining the global war on terror is only going to come back to haunt the Asian giant. By blocking a move supported by global powers, China is going to lose out on friendships with the global community.
How long can he stay under cover? Terror chief Maulana Masood Azhar in Karachi. (Source: Reuters)
Outraged by China being an irresponsible global power, UNSC members warned they "may be forced to pursue other actions" at the Security Council if Beijing continued with this policy.
India knew it all along that China would not antagonise Pakistan to keep India in check by letting terrorists work on destabilising the country. The move thus hasn’t come as a surprise.
The positive development for India has been that countries all over the world have supported India's fight against terrorism after the Pulwama attack, following which 11 countries had co-sponsored the move to ban the JeM organisation. Except for China, all member countries of the UNSC supported the move.
Syed Akbaruddin, India's permanent representative to the UN, in a tweet acknowledged the global support:
Big,Small & Many...1 big state holds up, again ...1 small signal @UN against terrorGrateful to the many states - big & small - who in unprecedented numbers, joined as co-sponsors of the effort. 🙏🏽— Syed Akbaruddin (@AkbaruddinIndia) March 13, 2019
While this support must be appreciated, it must not make us complacent.
India needs to keep up the pressure on Pakistan — it must also simultaneously work on its military preparedness.