Optimistic About Masood Azhar’s UN Terror Listing: UK Envoy

Parul Chandra New Delhi 26 April 2019

Amid growing indications that China may drop its resistance to the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council (UNSC), UK’s envoy to India Sir Dominic Asquith has said he’s “optimistic” about Beijing lifting its objections.

The UK high commissioner while not naming China told reporters in New Delhi on Friday: “ We are waiting to see whether the country that has so far been resisting agreeing to the listing will lift that objection. I remain optimistic that we will reach that conclusion.”

Dominic Asquith, UK High Commissioner to India
Photo Credit: UK High Commission

He was responding to a question on the efforts to list Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the Security Council, scuppered so far by China’s veto.

Asquith also noted that the UK has been a strong supporter of Azhar’s listing for a decade and that “we will get to the conclusion shortly”. Regarding terror attacks emanating from Pakistan, the envoy said, “we are talking to a variety of key actors in Pakistan to make it clear on what we expect in terms of Pakistani action against terrorist groups who are operating around the Line of Control (LoC).

The “technical hold” on Azhar’s listing by China is also expected to figure in the discussions between Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale and the head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK Simon McDonald when the two meet in New Delhi on May 10.

File Picture: China Voting in UN Security Council
Photo Credit: Chinese Mission to the UN/Xinhua

China has been under increasing pressure to lift the “technical hold” it had put on a resolution seeking to proscribe Azhar when it came up before the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UNSC last month. Among the 15 permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council, 14 had conveyed their support for the listing, with China being the lone dissenter. Among the 14, seven co-sponsored the resolution on Azhar seeking to list him.

The stepped up pressure saw the UK, US and France move a draft resolution directly before the UNSC last month seeking Azhar’s listing. While there have been reports that these three countries had set a deadline of April 23rd for China to lift the “technical hold”, it’s now past the deadline. But these three countries have, in all likelihood, not moved ahead on the resolution as there are indications that Beijing may finally relent on Masood Azhar.

While lobbying internationally for Azhar’s listing as a global terrorist, New Delhi has been engaging with Beijing too on the matter. Gokhale was recently in Beijing for a regular meeting during which, according to the ministry of external affairs, he “shared with China all evidences of terrorist activities of Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leader Masood Azhar.”

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