China blocks United Nations resolution seeking sanctions on Maulana Masood Azhar

PM Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping | Commons

China has blocked a bid to designate the leader of the group behind an attack which brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war a terrorist. "China should not prevent the Committee from doing the job the Security Council has entrusted it to do", another security council diplomat told PTI in response to a question. In a note sent to the council, China said it needed more time to examine the sanctions request targeting Masood Azhar, diplomats said.

After the Pulwama suicide car-bombing by the JeM that killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers on February 14, France is spearheading a renewed effort with British and the USA backing to put sanctions on Azhar.

The fate of the proposal to designate Pakistan-based Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council will be known in less than 24 hours when the deadline to raise objections to the bid expires.

Without naming China, India's permanent representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin in a tweet said, "1 big state holds up, again." and added, "Grateful to the many states - big & small - who in unprecedented numbers, joined as co-sponsors of the effort". The 15-member committee operates by consensus.

All eyes were on China, which has in the past blocked India's bids to get Azhar listed as a UN-designated global terrorist thrice. In 2017, Beijing also blocked a move by the United States, the UK and France to designate Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said earlier on Wednesday that "discussions on this issue must be conducted following the rules and procedures of the U.N. Security Council and its subsidiary bodies".

India expressed disappointment over the development on Wednesday.

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Had the JeM chief been designated a terrorist by the United Nations body, Azhar would have been subjected to global sanctions that require United Nations member countries to not host, arm or finance him.

"China will continue to adopt responsible attitude and participate in the deliberations in the UNSC 1267 Committee", Lu said on Wednesday.

China's stand contradicts the position adopted by New Delhi, which is open for talks, following visible and verifiable action against Pakistan-based terror groups that target India.

The blocking of the resolution, jointly presented by the United States, United Kingdom and France, seems to have greatly disappointed New Delhi.

Just two days before the March 13 deadline on Azhar's listing, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington. Pakistan responded a day later with fighter jets crossing into India-administered Kashmir.

FM Qureshi also underlined measures Pakistan had taken to defuse tensions, including the decision to release the Indian pilot. The United States is urging Pakistan to see the "urgency" of taking action against them.

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