ISLAMABAD: China on Tuesday hinted at ‘progress’ on designation of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar by the United Nations’ 1267 Sanctions Committee, as the United States called for resolving the contentious matter.
Senior Pakistani officials disclosed to Dawn that China could lift its technical hold leading to Azhar’s designation, while developments in this regard are likely to be shared by the Foreign Office with the media at a special briefing scheduled for Wednesday (today).
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, speaking at a media briefing in Beijing, said: “We support the listing issue being settled within the 1267 committee through dialogue and consultation and I believe this is the consensus of most members. Second, the relevant consultations are going on within the committee and have achieved some progress. Third, I believe, with the joint efforts of all parties, this issue can be properly resolved.”
Alice Wells says US will encourage parties to move ahead with designation of Masood Azhar
India has been seeking Azhar’s listing since 2016, but the latest push came after the February 14 Pulwama attack on the Central Reserve Police Force in India-held Kashmir, which was claimed by the JeM. The Indian resolution was backed by UNSC permanent members the US, the United Kingdom and France. China halted the process by applying technical hold for the fourth time.
However this time, the US, the UK and France, in a change of tactics, plan to table a resolution in the Security Council.
As Chinese spokesman Geng noted that the matter needed to be settled within 1267 Committee, Beijing has remained averse to dealing with the issue in the UNSC, where proceedings are public as compared to the sanctions committee, which operates under secrecy.
Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, while talking to journalists at the US Embassy in Islamabad, said: “We would encourage the parties to move forward with the designation (of Azhar). It reaffirms the centrality of UN and UN role in designating terrorists.”
She noted: “We believe designation process should be technical in nature, even assessment of evidence and countries moving forward to ensure that UN process works and works well and the international community is able to take corrective action against any terrorist, whoever they are, wherever they are located.”
Amb Wells was on a two-day trip to Pakistan in which she met Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Zubair Hayat, Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, and several other key officials. Her visit coincided with the trip of US Special Envoy for Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and the two together held a few meetings.
The US embassy in a statement said Amb Wells in her interactions in Islamabad underscored the importance of all actors in the region takings steps to advance security, stability, and cooperation in South Asia.
About the proceedings in Pakistan’s case, she told journalists that Pakistan would be required to detail the steps it had taken to prevent the terrorist groups from fund raising and organising.
Asked about US assessment of the steps taken by Pakistan so far, Amb Wells said: “We have heard some positive reports and partly seen some positive actions, but FATF itself will determine whether it meets the level of identifying and enforcing (restrictions on) the ability of these groups to fundraise and organise.”
Regarding prospects for improvement in Pakistan-India ties after the installation of new government in India, the US official said that forward movement would depend on the steps taken by Pakistan government to demonstrate its seriousness in implementing the (National Action) plan.
Clarifying the expectations from Pakistan, she said the government should take positive steps to demonstrate its commitment to ensure that use of force was the prerogative of the state and that militants groups could not use Pakistani soil. The action against terrorist groups, she emphasized, needed to be sustained.
When her attention was drawn to reports of Indian involvement in terrorism in Pakistan and Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies funding Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), she said she did not have the evidence.
Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2019