ISLAMABAD - China and Pakistan are criticizing the United States for bypassing established mechanisms and submitting a draft resolution directly in the United Nations Security Council to push for outlawing a Pakistani extremist leader.
Washington circulated the resolution to the 15-member council on Wednesday with the support of France and Britain to designate Masood Azhar, the head of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a global terrorist.
The move came two weeks after Beijing blocked a similar U.S.-sponsored resolution at the U.N. anti-terrorism “1267 sanctions committee”, which China insists is the authorized U.N. body to deal by consensus with the listing issues.
Chinese officials at the time defended their placement of a “technical hold” on the resolution to allow for further discussions and dialogue to settle the issue.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang while responding to the latest move at a news conference in Beijing urged Washington to "act cautiously and avoid “forcefully” moving forward the draft resolution.
“This is not in line with resolution of the issue through dialogue and negotiations. This has reduced the authority of the committee as a main anti-terrorism body of the UNSC and this is not conducive to the solidarity and only complicates the issue,” said Geng.
China, a strong ally of Pakistan, had also prevented the committee from sanctioning Azhar in 2016 and 2017.
The anti-India JeM, already listed as a global terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for a February 14 suicide car bombing in Kashmir that killed more than 41 Indian paramilitary forces, making it the deadliest ever assault in the disputed region. The violence dangerously escalated military tensions and almost pushed nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of another war.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal told his weekly news conference in Islamabad that “we regret” the United States has circulated the resolution in the UNSC at time when the matter was already under consideration at the sanctions committee.
“Such efforts to circumvent the established machinery for this purpose will only weaken the 1267 regime... Any action outside the committee will undermine the integrity of the sanctions regime and must be avoided. Pakistan remains committed to fulfil its obligations under the U.N. sanctions committee,” Faisal stressed.
The spokesman also said that Islamabad’s own investigation based on a dossier of evidence handed over by New Delhi about the February 14 bombing in Kashmir’s Pulwama district found no “linkage of Pakistan” with the attack.
Faisal also dismissed the Indian dossier as mostly compilation of “social media content”, though he maintained that Pakistan was ready to carry forward the investigation process if it receives fresh evidence from India linking Pakistani elements with the Pulwama attack.
Islamabad has consistently denied playing any role in the violence or allowing anyone to use Pakistani soil for such actions. The bombing in the Indian part of disputed Kashmir prompted both countries to carry out aerial strikes on each other’s soil and led to a brief dogfight between their warplanes, raising fears of a wider conflict in the region.
The tensions cooled down due to diplomatic interventions by major powers such as the United States, China, Russia and regional allies, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Authorities in Pakistan say a crackdown on militant groups, including JeM, in recent weeks has arrested scores of suspects and seized hundreds of facilities linked to proscribed organizations in the country. Islamabad rejects charges any outside pressure is behind the move.
But India, and even some critics at home, remain skeptical of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts, saying some of the groups, including JeM, allegedly are backed by the country’s military and previous pledges to dismantle these organizations did not produce the desired results.