Azhar: China plays realpolitik

China’s decision to block the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist is disappointing. Following the dastardly attack on a CRPF convoy at Pulwama by a JeM suicide bomber, India had stepped up diplomatic efforts to have the UN Security Council blacklist Azhar. Moved by France, the proposal was co-sponsored by 12 other members of the UNSC. This strong support for the proposal evoked hope in India that China would not block the move as it had done on three occasions earlier. However, by placing a hold on the proposal a fourth time, China failed the international community once again and has undermined efforts to fight global terrorism. It underscores China’s weak commitment and selective approach to fighting terrorism targeting other countries. Some in India have interpreted the Chinese decision at the UNSC as indicative of Beijing’s hostility towards India. The Wuhan spirit is a sham, they insist, arguing in favour of India hitting back at China on issues of concern to it. This would not be a productive path for India to tread and is unlikely to be rewarding. Sino-Indian relations are multifaceted and allowing a single issue to determine the direction of bilateral relations would not be in India’s long-term interests. China, too, must seriously consider if it wants to privilege one individual, a terrorist, over ties with India?

Getting Azhar included in the UNSC terrorist list has limited benefits. Its blacklisting of Hafiz Saeed, the founder-leader of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, for instance, has not put him out of action. Over a decade after he was included in the UNSC terrorist list, he remains a potent and powerful figure in Pakistan’s terror circles, delivering hate speeches and raising funds publicly. Likewise, Azhar’s blacklisting is unlikely to weaken his capacity to carry out attacks in India. The Jaish-e-Mohammad is already a proscribed organisation, but that has had little effect on its ability to carry out its terrorist activity in Pakistan and against India. While India should continue its diplomatic efforts to get the international community to pressure Pakistan to dismantle its terror infrastructure, Delhi must avoid wasting its diplomatic resources and energies with China on Azhar. Beijing and Delhi can work together on many other issues, but China is unlikely to do anything that upsets Pakistan.

Delhi must deal with terror from Pakistan by strengthening its deterrent capability against the gamut of warfare that Pakistan employs from sub-conventional to nuclear and strengthening security along the Line of Control. Most importantly, Delhi must improve its relations with Kashmiris. Ultimately, this is likely to be the most effective way to prevent local youth from supporting Azhar’s anti-India mission.

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Azhar: China plays realpolitik

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