On Wednesday, China prevented the 15-member UN Security Council committee from blacklisting Masood Azhar, the head of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). This was the fourth time since 2010 that China has blocked India’s bid to get Azhar listed as a ‘global terrorist’.
The proposal, moved by US, Britain and France, was placed on “technical hold” after a request from China, putting it in limbo.
The move to list Azhar as a terrorist, under the Sanctions Committee of the UN Nations Security Council which was established under Resolution 1267 in 1999, came after JeM claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF men in February.
What does being listed as a ‘global terrorist’ mean?
The sanctions committee has the power to identify individuals or groups that carry out acts of terrorism and impose sanctions on them. These measures may include:
Asset freeze: All member states of the UN are required to freeze funds and other financial assets or economic resources of the designated individuals and entities. According to the UN, “The purpose of the assets freeze is to deny listed individuals, groups, undertakings and entities the means to support terrorism. To achieve this it seeks to ensure that no funds, financial assets or economic resources of any kind are available to them for so long as they remain subject to the sanctions measures.”
Travel ban: All member states, are required to block the individual from entering or transiting through their territories. This, the UN says, will prohibit the mobility of the said people. “Member States are encouraged to add the names of the listed individuals to their visa watch lists and national watch lists to ensure effective implementation of the travel ban. Member States are also encouraged to take other relevant measures in accordance with their international obligations and national laws and regulations, which may include, but are not limited to, cancelling visas and entry permits or refusing to issue any visa/permit for listed individuals,” an explanation of the term ‘travel ban’ by the UN states.
Arms freeze: The member states are also required to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer of arms to the listed individual. “This should be understood as an obligation to prevent listed individuals and entities from obtaining arms, or related materiel or services of all types and in any way,” the Sanctions committee said.
However, according to The Wire, diplomats have said that the listing would be symbolic and was unlikely to have an effect on the ground.
Why is China blocking it?
Even though Azhar has been established as the mastermind behind several terrorist attacks, including the one on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, calling him a global terrorist would be a huge dent to Pakistan’s image, since they have let him move around freely inside their country for years.
As Mint points out in this report, blocking India’s bid repeatedly may serve two purposes for China — one is to help its “all-weather friend” Pakistan and two is to keep India engaged with its own local problems.
China has for a long time seen India as its competitor in Asia. It has also been the only country that has consistently backed Pakistan at the UN.