NEW DELHI: China on Thursday blocked India's call to ban Jaish-i-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar at the United Nations (UN), Times of India reported.
Hours before the deadline, China requested the UN’s Sanction Committee, which was considering a ban on Azhar, to keep the designation on hold, the report quoted highly placed sources.
On February 18, a list of 11 individuals and one organisation "linked to terrorism in India", was submitted to the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (the militant Islamic State group) and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.
The UN banned Jaish in 2001 but India’s efforts to get restrictions imposed on Azhar after the Mumbai attacks did not bear fruit because China did not allow them to be imposed.
"We will be moving the 1267 Sanctions Committee to also include the name of Masood Azhar on the sanctions list. It is a great anomaly that the organisation Jaish-i-Mohammad is listed, but not its leader," external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said earlier in February.
Related: The return of Masood Azhar
Pakistan’s Joint Investigating Team (JIT) investigating the Pathankot airbase attack in India told Indian interlocutors that it is yet to find evidence linking Masood Azhar to the terror attack, The Hindu reported on Wednesday.
According to The Hindu, the JIT was still verifying whether the Jaish founder had any role in the storming of the base.
Following Indian accusations earlier this year that militant group Jaish-i-Mohammad was responsible for the attacks, Pakistani authorities cracked down on the group, sealing a Jaish-run seminary in Sialkot and taking group leader Masood Azhar into protective custody.
The Indian Express said that Indian investigators had asked the JIT for the Jaish chief’s voice samples, indicating he was the prime suspect in the January 2 armed attack at the Indian Air Force base.
While the JIT probes the attack, reciprocity is being discussed by India. "We will ask for access to Masood Azhar," Sharad Kumar, the chief of India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), told NDTV.
A formal request would be sent after the five-member Pakistani team returned home, he said.