JeM chief Masood Azhar is no terrorist, says China

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Refusing to go into details , China’s Permanent Representative Liu Jieyi clarified that Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohamed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar does not qualify as a terrorist who would have to face UN sanctions, after China put on hold a ban sought by India on the Pathankot terror attacks mastermind.

After assuming the rotating presidency of the Security Council, Liu asserted that Azhar did not meet “the Council’s requirements” to be considered a terrorist.

China is a permanent member of the council, with veto powers, and has longstanding ties to Pakistan.

Asked about China exercising a virtual veto at the UN sanctions committee by putting a hold on Azhar being declared a terrorist subject to a range of punitive actions, Liu made a general statement: “Individuals and orgnisations on the sanctions list of the United Nations would have to meet the requirements. It is the responsibility of all the members of the Council to make sure that each requirement is followed.”

When asked in what way Azhar fell short of being a terrorist, Liu only said: “The Council’s requirements” – implying that he (Azhar) did not meet them. Liu would not go into details.

At the committee’s meeting on Monday, all the other 14 members of the Council supported placing Azhar on the list, but China put a hold on it, which is in effect a veto.

The exercise of veto through holds by permanent members in the sanctions committee falls into gray area as it appears to extend the right beyond the Council where the veto is recognised by the Charter. India has called it a “hidden veto”.

Following the January 2 attack on the Pathankot air force base, India had requested the sanctions committee in February to include Azhar in its list of terrorists. The action by the panel, popularly known as the 1267 committee after the Council’s resolution number setting it up, would have required Pakistan and other countries to freeze his assets and ban his travel.

This is the second time that China has come to the aid of Pakistani terrorists in the sactions committee. Last June, China blocked India’s demand for taking action under the Council’s anti-terrorism resolutions against Pakistan for freeing Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the Lashkar-e-Taiba mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people were killed.

India has criticised Beijing’s latest action to prop up Pakistan-based terrorists.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Friday it was “incomprehensible” that while JeM was listed by the sanctions committee as far back as 2001 “for its 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”.

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