Masood Azhar
File image of JeM chief Masood Azhar | PTI
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New Delhi: The US is planning to move the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar after China Wednesday again obstructed a bid to get him listed as a global terrorist, sources told ThePrint.

According to government sources, the US is looking at “several proposals, including moving the council”, even as backchannel talks continue among the other members of the UNSC to see what can be done next.

The fresh attempt to get Azhar on the UNSC’s 1267 ISIL and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee list was made by the US, the UK, and France — three of the five permanent members of the council (China and Russia are the other two). It was the fourth attempt at the UNSC to designate Azhar a terrorist, a move that would place him under a travel ban, assets freeze and arms embargo. The three earlier attempts — made in 2009, 2016 and 2017 — were also blocked by China.

The latest proposal was moved after the Pakistan-based JeM claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack, which killed 40 CRPF personnel on 14 February.

The deadline for the 15 UN members — five permanent and 10 non-permanent — to express objection to the proposal was to expire Wednesday, 13 March. At the last minute, China placed a ‘technical hold’ on the proposal.

The technical hold will be valid for nine months, within which China can lift it. If it does not, the hold will automatically turn into a ‘block’ on the decision.

Also read: China blocks proposal to tag JeM chief Masood Azhar a terrorist for fourth time at UN

‘Affirmative vote’

According to the sources, the US is planning to get Azhar on the list by adopting a UNSC resolution under which all 15 members go for affirmative voting. In this case, the final decision on each proposal will be made if nine votes are given in its favour. In that case, a veto by any of the members won’t hold sway.

Meanwhile, the US has come down very heavily on China for placing a technical hold on the proposal.

“China’s move to hold the listing is inconsistent with its own stated goals of combatting terrorism and furthering regional stability in South Asia,” a senior American diplomat has said.

“If China is serious about these goals, it should not protect terrorists from Pakistan or any other country from being held accountable to the council,” the diplomat added. “If China continues to block this designation, responsible member states may be forced to pursue other actions at the Security Council. It shouldn’t have to come to that.”

According to the diplomat, the US believes Islamabad has repeatedly sought Beijing’s help in protecting Pakistan-based terrorist groups from being listed by the 1267 sanctions committee.

“The case for designating Masood Azhar — the leader of a group the UN already calls an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organisation — is undeniable,” the American official added.

Also read: China’s refusal to list Masood Azhar as a terrorist holds some lessons for Modi govt

Hand over Azhar, India tells Pakistan

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj lashed out at Pakistan for funding the JeM and hosting the terror outfit on its soil.

“Some people say (Pakistan Prime Minister) Imran Khan is a statesman. If he is so generous, then he should hand over JeM chief Masood Azhar to India. Let’s see how generous he is…” she added, addressing an event at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library Wednesday.

Swaraj was referring to the praise heaped on Khan recently when he decided to hand over Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was taken into custody by the Pakistan military after his jet crashed into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) during the 27 February dogfight.

“We are ready to engage with Pakistan in an atmosphere free from terror… Talks and terror cannot go together,” she said.

“Why did the Pakistani military attack us on behalf of the JeM? You not only keep the JeM on your soil, but fund them. When the victim country retaliates, you attack it on the terror outfit’s behalf,” she added.

This is an updated version of the report

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