Muslims beat posters of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar during a protest against Pulwama terror attack, in Ahmedabad on February 15, 2019
A protest rally against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar in Ahmedabad | Santosh Hirlekar/PTI
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New Delhi: Exactly 10 years after India initiated the process, China finally lifted its ‘technical hold’ and the UN 1267 al-Qaeda and ISIL Sanctions Committee listed Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist.

Official sources told ThePrint that the move was a culmination of India’s “patient diplomacy”, as it continued steady dialogue with China while using its “diplomatic weight” with other stakeholders over the years. India never lost sight of the fact that Azhar has to be designated a global terrorist for his role in a series of terrorist activities in India, and “not just Pulwama”, a source said.

A top official said it was clear that China would lift its hold after Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s visit to Beijing last week. The key factor was that New Delhi didn’t just have a dialogue with Beijing, but also kept up the tempo with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, also known as the P-5 (US, UK, France and Russia).

“This not just about a sustained engagement with China, but an intense involvement with other stakeholders, with whom all the sensitive details and evidence regarding Masood Azhar was discussed at length,” said the official, requesting anonymity.

Azhar’s acts of terror

According to another official, it did not matter whether or not a reference to Pulwama or Kashmir was attached, because India had wanted Azhar to be labelled an international terrorist since 2009.

“He (Azhar) had to be listed as a terrorist not just for Pulwama or for his role in Kashmir, but for all those terrorist activities he carried out on Indian soil,” the official added.

In April 2000, the JeM used a human bomb to launch an attack outside the Indian Army’s 15 Corps headquarters in Srinagar. In October 2001, Azhar masterminded the attack on the J&K Legislative Assembly.

The JeM’s most prominent operation was the attack on Parliament on 13 December 2001. In recent years, apart from Pulwama, JeM’s name also came up in the Pathankot Air Force Base attack.

Also read: India must stop chasing a UNSC ban on Masood Azhar & revamp its Nehruvian foreign policy

Big diplomatic win

According to the first official quoted above, Azhar’s listing is a “big diplomatic victory” for India, because while New Delhi was batting alone for his listing in 2009, now 14 of the 15 permanent and non-permanent members of the UNSC supported it.

T.C.A. Raghavan, director general of the Indian Council of World Affairs and former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, agreed.

“This is a big diplomatic win for India. This did require some sustained efforts, and India has been doing so since 2009. However, in the last couple of years, we’ve really pushed the envelope.”

What will China want in return?

A former diplomat, who was involved in the process in 2009, said this could be China’s way of making India agree to support its grand infrastructure plan, the Belt and Road Initiative, which New Delhi is opposed to.

Another former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, Sharat Sabharwal, added: “This is a symbolic victory. It is clear that China has done this under pressure from all countries. Let us not forget those who have been previously listed are still roaming freely in Pakistan. We do not know what China will ask of us in return for this.”

Also read: This is how India can ‘punish’ China for protecting Masood Azhar at UN

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  1. A pragmatic compromise appears to have been reached. The material listed pertains to his links with al Qaeda and acts done in the past, targeting the West. In terms of practical benefit, perhaps not much. If reports of his kidney ailment are true, he may be travelling to a destination where US sanctions are ineffective …

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