Fresh Bid At Listing Masood Azhar As Global Terrorist: Will China Change Stand?

Nitin A. Gokhale New Delhi 12 March 2019

Nine days before Adil Ahmad Dar blew himself up while attacking the CRPF convoy at Pulwama, he had probably heard an audio message from Maulana Masood Azhar in which the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief had exhorted his cadres to relaunch jihad with renewed vigour in the Kashmir valley. In the message that was circulated extensively, Azhar told his followers it was only a matter of time before India was forced to negotiate with the Kashmiris as the United States is doing in Afghanistan.

The February 5 audio recording is the last known public appearance of the JeM chief, who’s name will come up for hearing at the UN Security Council discussion on resolution 1267, to decide whether he should be listed as a UN-designated terrorist. At least thrice in the last decade, Masood Azhar has escaped being listed on the UN sanctions list because Pakistan’s trusted—and arguably—the only friend China, has used its veto power to block the move by other permanent members of the UN security Council. The proceedings at the UN on Wednesday would be watched with great interest this time amid all-round condemnation of the JeM attack in Pulwama. China will not be unaware of the exasperation felt across world capitals about Pakistan’s continuing support to the terrorist organisation.

New Delhi has spared no effort in reaching out to all the 15 members of the UN Security Council (P-5 and 10 non-permanent ones) over the last fortnight after its combat jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and hit a major training camp of the JeM at Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. India has also had detailed conversations with China’s Ambassador in Delhi Luo Zhaohui to convey the need for China to look at the issue of banning Masood Azhar. New Delhi has even shared details of Azhar’s direct involvement in leading the Jaish, given that in the past Beijing pointed out that Azhar was no longer active because of ill-health. Given that U.S., UK and France are pushing the resolution on Wednesday, it is more than likely that China will go along. If that happens—and it’s a big IF—it would be quite a departure from the past. But India may not be satisfied with just that.

Instead, New Delhi is focusing on steps it should take post-March 13 to sustain the pressure on Pakistan so that it is compelled to take action against the Jaish. India has shared with Pakistan a detailed dossier on Azhar and his activities, the locations of different Jaish camps, and financial transactions of the outfit. Pakistan has been given names of 42 top Jaish cadres trained in various camps. The data was obtained through various sources, including from a list compiled by the Punjab (Pakistan) Police.

Indian intelligence operatives have put together the details of different training courses of the Jaish. There are religious courses (Daura-e-Owais Karni; Daura-eAalim; Daura-e-Khair and Dars-e-Nizam).

And there are courses for fidayeen. They include:

  • Daura-e-Tarbiyah: Seven to 14 days course for selected cadres, primarily for motivation and indoctrination
  • Daura-e-Tafseer: A 40-day course on interpretation of particular verses of the Quran with reference to jihad
  • Daura-e-Asasiyah: A 14-day foundation course focused on basic knowledge of jihad

The armed training courses include:

  • Daura-e-Zarar: A 40-day course. Cadres are taught to handle explosives and grenades, pistols, AK-47 rifles, LMGs, rocket launchers and Under Barrel Grenade Launchers. Also taught radio and mobile communication skills
  • Daura-e-Al Araad: An advanced four-month course for honing basic skills besides 10-days firing practice and Quranic lessons

Communications training:

  • Handling electronic and communications equipment
  • Advance communications course combined with use of GPS, code words, map reading and IED making

Basically, the fidayeen are trained like any other armed group but their selection is rigorous and they are motivated on the basis of religion.

All these details—surely known to the ISI—have been shared with Pakistan just to reiterate that India is aware of the locations and routine of the Jaish camps. Moreover, this time, New Delhi is determined to go beyond ritualistic banning of Masood Azhar. India wants demonstrable action by Pakistan. What does that mean? If Pakistan is serious, it should hand over all Indian fugitives it harbours and protects such as Dawood Ibrahim, Syed Salahuddin and Khalistani terrorists among others. Only such steps will be considered verifiable and demonstrable action.

India is also likely to push the envelope by asking for joint inspection of known camps of JeM, LeT and others. Otherwise, goes the argument, at least thrice in the past, Pakistan has taken token steps to ban or control the LeT, JeM etc. Else, India is likely to remain on high alert and continue to put all conceivable pressure on Pakistan.

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