India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale is in Beijing today to meet with Chinese counterparts. China is expected to remove its veto to the UN Security Council designating Pakistan-based Masood Azhar a global terrorist.
China has blocked attempts to blacklist Azhar since 2009 as a mark of support for Pakistan, a key ally. India holds Azhar, the leader of militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), responsible for several terrorist attacks inside India, including Indian-administered Kashmir earlier this year.
For China, blacklisting Azhar would curry favour with India, and rescue its anti-terrorism image at the UN. However, Beijing will want Pakistani military support to counter any backlash from JeM and its allies against Chinese infrastructural projects in Pakistan.
Pakistan will be displeased, as Pakistani intelligence has ties with JeM. However, Islamabad has little leverage in its relations with Beijing, given Pakistan’s estimated $90 billion of debt owed to China, including an emergency $2 billion loan just to keep its foreign reserves afloat.
Should China remove its veto, expect the Security Council to swiftly declare him as a terrorist. This will subject him to an arms embargo, a global travel ban and a freeze on all his assets. However, JeM’s operations are not likely to be affected unless Pakistan cracks down on domestic financing of the group.
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