TERROR TAG FOR JeM CHIEF

UN Resolution On Masood Azhar: India Ready For The Long Haul

Parul Chandra New Delhi 16 March 2019

Disappointed as India may be at the “technical hold” placed by China preventing the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist but New Delhi has made it clear that there is no question of cutting a deal Beijing to ensure it gets on board. Instead, it’s prepared for the long haul to ensure the resolution seeking to list Azhar is eventually passed by the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) Sanctions Committee.

Sources said on Saturday that just as in the case of Indian Air Force fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman there was no question of striking a deal to seek his release, New Delhi does not foresee the possibility of a deal with any member of the Sanctions Committee or the UNSC on Masood Azhar.

When the resolution came up before the 1267 Sanctions Committee earlier this week, of the 15 permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council, 14 are learnt to have conveyed their support. Of the 14, seven co-sponsored the resolution.

“Terror is non-negotiable,” said sources. Stating that India continues to work with Security Council members for Azhar’s listing, sources further said that “the lack of credibility of Pakistan is the issue”, adding that steps taken by Pakistan after the Pulwama terror strike ostensibly to crackdown on terror outfits were “cosmetic changes”. Name boards have been changes but the people behind these institutions remain the same, remarked sources.

While the failure to list Azhar has come as a setback to New Delhi, sources said India is “cautiously confident that eventually Masood Azhar will get listed”. They further said that New Delhi has been in regular touch with Beijing on this matter and it was now up to the Chinese to take a decision on this matter. “We will not rest until Azhar is proscribed,” sources added.

India’s concerns about the terror emanating from Pakistani soil have also, once again, been shared with the Trump administration during the recent visit of foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale to Washington. The FS who was in Washington for bilateral Foreign Office consultations and the Strategic Security Dialogue is learnt to have conveyed to officials there about Pakistan’s failure to take adequate steps to dismantle the terror infrastructure operating from its soil.

Gokhale also conveyed Indian concerns about the use of U.S.-supplied F-16 fighter jets by Pakistan during India’s air strike. U.S. defence systems and platforms were used for an offensive action against India and Washington has agreed to look into this concern of ours, said sources. The U.S. administration during these meetings is said to have noted that these platforms were provided to Pakistan during an earlier period when Washington’s relations with New Delhi and Islamabad were different.

For now, India is happy that it has got solid, across the board political support in the United States on the Pulwama terror attack. Sources said the U.S. view is that India acted in self-defence when it conducted air-strikes on a JeM training camp and that it also displayed restraint.

India plans to continue to keep the focus on compliance by Pakistan including technical compliance as sought by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global terror financing watchdog that placed Pakistan in the grey list last year. India has been pressing hard for Pakistan’s blacklisting by the FATF which would seriously hurt its economy.

As for speculation that Saudi Arabia has been seeking to mediate between India and Pakistan, sources said there is no such role for any third country. However, countries can convey their support for India on the terrorism issue to Pakistan, sources added.

While India and Pakistan did set aside their recent tensions to go ahead with the first meeting on the Kartarpur Corridor, Islamabad’s approach during the discussions have not pleased New Delhi. Pak PM Imran Khan’s initial announcement indicated it would be a generous, open offer, said sources. However, what we found during the meeting was that they had a limited focus. They want to have a permit system to allow pilgrims and levy a fee on them, said sources. Pakistan’s perceived generosity was not matched by the discussions at the meeting, said sources.

Regarding Pak support for the Khalistani cause, sources said while it maintains that it does not harbour groups inimical to India, the presence of pro-Khalistan elements at the Kartarpur ground-breaking ceremony erodes Pakistan’s credibility.

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