Pakistan has told its all-weather ally China to lift the technical hold on the United Nations listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist on the condition that India carries out a military de-escalation on the border and resumes bilateral dialogue with Islamabad, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.
The time for China to give specific reasons for its technical hold runs out this week after which the US will exercise other options, including discussing the matter in the open UN General Assembly – a move that could embarrass China.
Azhar’s JeM has taken responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama terror strike in Kashmir that left 40 Indian troopers dead.
According to Indian and US diplomats based in New York, China is understood to have conveyed Pakistan’s preconditions to the US but the Trump administration was not impressed and Washington told Beijing that the listing of Azhar and the resumption of the India-Pakistan bilateral dialogue are not linked in any way.
After China put a technical hold on Azhar listing for the fourth time (this time on a US-France-UK proposal on March 13), the three key members of P-5 of the UNSC asked Beijing to come up with specific reasons for the hold in two weeks. This deadline expires this week and US counter-terror representatives have signalled their intent to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, the diplomats added.
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Pakistan’s stance on Azhar has seemed in flux over the past few weeks, with Rawalpindi GHQ telling New Delhi , through back channels on February 27, that Islamabad will ask Beijing not to put a hold on Azhar’s listing.
However, Islamabad subsequently changed its stance, with a military spokesperson denying that Azhar or JeM were present and active in Pakistan.
Masood Azhar is bedridden with a life-threatening spinal ailment at Markaz Usman-o-Ali seminary on Railway Link Road in Bhawalpur, Punjab. The terrorist group now functions from Markaz Subhanallah, Karachi Road, Bhawalpur, which contains the grave of Azhar’s father Allah Baksh Sabir Alvi.
Although India has left it to its key allies to get Azhar listed, the US is peeved with China’s effort on behalf of Pakistan, the diplomats said.
Since the February 26 Indian strike on JeM’s terror training camp at Balakot, Pakistan’s military has been deployed on its eastern borders with India, and the country has just lifted (on March 27), strict restrictions on its airspace that were put in place for unhindered military flying.
Pakistan is trying to convince the 10 non-permanent members of the UNSC, all of whom were in favour of the listing of Azhar, that India’s military posture is related to the forthcoming general elections in the world’s largest democracy.
The Modi government on its part has ruled out any dialogue with either Islamabad or its proxies in Kashmir till the entire terror infrastructure in Pakistan with India as its main target is uprooted.
Post-Pulwama, the majority of the international community and intelligence agencies including CIA chief Gina Haspel have backed India for its stand against terrorism and the response at Balakot.
Mar 28, 2019 00:19 IST