China blocks India's & US move to list JeM leader as global terrorist in UNSC


China has blocked a move by India and the US to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader Abdul Rauf Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN Security Council, the second time Beijing has resorted to such a step in less than two months. Azhar is the brother of JeM founder and is believed to be the deputy leader of the terrorist group that has its main base at Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Azhar was designated as a terrorist by the US treasury department in 2010.

China blocked the joint bid by India and the US to designate Azhar at the UN Security Council on Wednesday by placing a “technical hold” on the proposal on the ground that more time is required to study the matter. People familiar with the matter said this was the same position taken by China in the past to block proposals for sanctioning other terrorists based in Pakistan, its traditional ally.

“We placed a hold because we need more time to study the case. Placing holds is provided for by the committee guidelines, and there have been quite a number of similar holds by committee members on listing requests,” a spokesperson for China’s mission to the UN said, referring to the Security Council’s sanctions committee.

In June, China placed a technical hold on a joint move at the Security Council by India and the US to list Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Abdul Rehman Makki, the brother-in-law of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed. The listing of Makki continues to be pending because of the block by China.

The proposal to list Azhar under the UN Security Council sanctions regime had been circulated to all 15 members of the council’s Al-Qaeda and ISIL Sanctions Committee, also known as the 1267 Committee.

The technical hold, which can last for up to six months at a time under the Security Council’s procedures, effectively blocks proposals to designate terrorists until the measure is withdrawn by the country that placed it.

In the past, China blocked proposals to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar at the UN sanctions committee at least four times over the course of a decade by using technical holds. At the time, Beijing contended this was done as more information was required about Azhar’s activities.

China relented in Masood Azhar’s case by lifting the technical hold on May 1, 2019, allowing his listing by the 1267 committee for his terrorist activities and his links with al-Qaeda. China gave in because of mounting global pressure and its own efforts at the time to improve ties with New Delhi in the wake of the 2017 border standoff at Doklam.

The designation of a terrorist by the UN Security Council requires the country where the person is based to take three steps – freezing of funds and financial assets, enforcing a travel ban, and cutting off access to weapons and related materials.

When the US treasury department designated Abdul Rauf Azhar in 2010, it described him as a senior leader of JeM who has “urged Pakistanis to engage in militant activities”. He served as JeM’s acting leader in 2007, as one of the group’s “most senior commanders in India”, and as its intelligence coordinator. In 2008, Azhar was “assigned to organise suicide attacks in India” and was also involved with JeM’s training camps.

(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)