UN Resolution On Masood Azhar Blocked: What Are India’s Options?

Nitin A. Gokhale New Delhi 14 March 2019

China is not yet ready to abandon its all-weather ally Pakistan. By putting a technical hold on India’s attempt at listing Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a UN-designated terrorist, Beijing has snubbed not just India but international opinion that holds Pakistan responsible for nurturing, equipping and sheltering a terrorist group. This is the fourth time in a decade that China has used its power to block the proposal brought at the 1267 sanctions committee of the UN Security Council.

This leaves New Delhi with three options. One, continue to pursue its efforts to convince Beijing about the importance of the issue, two change tack and launch another diplomatic effort to pressure Pakistan independent of the UN system or three use both options and work with other important global players to put both China and Pakistan under pressure. There is a school of thought that India should not expend its political and diplomatic goodwill on trying to get Azhar banned since it does not materially change the situation inside Pakistan or force the Jaish and its leader to alter behaviour. The example of Hafeez Mohammad Saeed is cited in support of this thought. Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, was listed by the UN as a designated terrorist in 2001 but continues to operate openly in Pakistan even now.

So is there a way out? Former diplomat Gautam Bambawale—who has the unique distinction of being India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan and Ambassador to China in the past four years—feels New Delhi needs to be transactional with Beijing to get desired results (see the interview on this website). The give and take approach has worked in the not too recent past in the proceedings of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), where China worked with India to put Pakistan on the grey list, in return for New Delhi supporting China’s candidature for chairmanship of the inter-governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of policies, both at national and international levels, to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Technically, India has nine months to decide on how to proceed since the proposal to list Azhar does not end until then. China has already said it needs more time to conduct a “thorough” and “in-depth assessment” of the application. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang has said in Beijing that the United Nations Security Council 1267 Committee has “clear standards on the procedures of designating terrorist organisations and individuals”. “China conducts thorough and in-depth assessment of these applications and we still need more time, so that is why we put forward the technical hold,” he said.

What strategy India employs will become clear in the coming days but New Delhi is already focusing on steps it should take 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 various camps. The list 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 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 for interpretation of particular verses of the Quran that talk about jihad
·Daura-e-Asasiyah: A 14-day foundation course for basic knowledge of jihad

Armed training courses:

·Daura-e-Zarar: A 40-day course. Cadres are taught to handle pistols and grenades, AK-47s, LMG, 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 lessons in Quran and 10-day firing practice

Communication training:

·Handling electronic and communications equipment
·Advanced communications course in using codes with map reading and GPS. Also, IED making.

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

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. India wants demonstrable action by Pakistan. What does that mean? One, Islamabad should allow joint inspection of these locations and two, it should hand over all Indian nationals it harbours and protects, say those who deal with the issue.

On the second point, India wants Dawood Ibrahim, Syed Salahuddin, Khalistani terrorists—all of them Indian citizens—among others to be deported to India. Only such steps will be considered verifiable and demonstrable action. Otherwise, goes the argument, at least thrice in the past, Pakistan has taken token steps to ban, control LeT, JeM etc.

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