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India Protests China Move to Keep Islamic Militant Leader Off UN Terror Blacklist

  • Anjana Pasricha

Indian protesters stamp placards with pictures of Pakistani Mujahiddeen leader Masood Azhar, left, as they condemn the attack on the Pathankot air force base in Mumbai, India, Jan.4, 2016.

India has lodged a protest with China for its opposition to a proposal at the United Nations to put Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of Pakistan-based Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, on a U.N. terror blacklist.

This is not the first time China has stopped a move at the U.N. to designate Azhar a terrorist. Beijing blocked a similar proposal last year.

Last month, the United States, backed by France and Britain, initiated another move to blacklist Azhar, but China has put the proposal on hold, effectively blocking it.

China has defended its latest move, saying conditions have not yet been met to back the proposal on Azhar, and that it had taken the step to allow a consensus representing the international community.

Bilateral implications

Analysts in New Delhi say the issue has become a huge irritant for India and is casting a shadow on ties between the two Asian nations.

“Obviously it will impact on bilateral relations, that’s for sure,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese Studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup countered by saying that “if there is a change in the Chinese position, there will be consensus also.” He added that, “we hope that eventually China will also come around to accepting this view.”

India says China is the only country on the 15-member U.N. Security Council holding out on the proposal.

India accuses Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leader, Maulana Masood Azhar, of masterminding several deadly attacks in India, including an assault on an air force base last year. Pakistan says it has found no evidence linking him to the January 2014 attack.

The Jaish-e-Mohammad group that Azhar heads has been blacklisted by the United Nations. If Azhar is blacklisted by the U.N. Security Council, he would face a global travel ban and asset freeze.

India's nuclear desires

Besides the continuing differences on the issue of Azhar, India is also upset by China’s opposition to its entry to the main club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology.

Although India is a not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the United States has been pushing for India to join the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). But China says exceptions should not be made for one country.

Analysts in New Delhi see Beijing’s longstanding ties with Pakistan as the reason it’s blocking the move on Azhar and on India’s entry to the NSG.

“Why are the Chinese dragging their feet on the issue? This move appears quite strange for the Indian side. Of course there is speculation that China is backing Pakistan,” Kondapalli said.

He says the promise of improved ties after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power about three years ago has not materialized.

“There is a cooling off that has happened in the last one, one and a half years, now,” he said.

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