China's double standards laid bare

China’s blocking of India’s bid to bring UN action on Pakistan for freeing Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, lays bare Beijing’s irresolute commitment to fighting terrorism. India and China have been in talks about bilateral cooperation in tackling terrorism. Indeed, the two countries have engaged in several rounds of military exercises, whose key theme is counter-terrorism. Yet, when it comes to concrete action in fighting terrorism, Beijing is not standing up to be counted. With Pakistan refusing to bring to justice the masterminds in the 2008 terror attacks and in fact releasing Lakhvi, a frustrated India turned to the UN in the hope that the world body would put pressure on Islamabad on the matter. However, China dashed these hopes by blocking the Indian move. Beijing claims that India has not provided “sufficient information” regarding the case.

It is evident that Beijing’s decision to block UN action against Pakistan is aimed at keeping its all-weather friend – Pakistan – happy. It has supported Pakistan and the ISI several times in the past on terrorism-related issues. For instance, it repeatedly blocked UN Security Council action against the Jamaat-ud Dawa, a front of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. It was only after the Mumbai terror attacks that it voted in the UNSC to declare it a terrorist organisation. That change was made only because global outrage against the LeT and JuD was intense and China would have been isolated had it not voted along with other UNSC members. It has since reverted to backing Pakistan in the UN on terrorism issues of concern to India.

China has its own terrorism problems vis-à-vis Pakistan. Terrorist groups active in its Xinjiang pro-vince are taking sanctuary in Pakistan. While the Pakistan government is supporting China against these groups, cracking down on their bases and hand-ing over suspected militants to the Chinese govern-ment, a selective approach in dealing with terrorism will not work as terrorist groups often cooperate with each other in accessing funds, training and technical expertise. Thus, action against Uighur terrorists alone is unlikely to be productive in the long run if China continues to endorse Pakistan’s support to terrorists active in India and Afghanistan.

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