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China extends hold on Indian bid to ban Jaish chief Masood Azhar at UN

Updated October 02, 2016

China on Saturday extended its technical hold on India's move to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar at the United Nations (UN), Times of India reported. The move will hold for at least three months, and comes two days before China's hold was set to expire.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in Beijing, "The technical hold on India’s listing application submitted to the 1267 Committee in March 2016 has already been extended... There are still different views on India’s listing application. The extended technical hold on it will allow more time for the committee to deliberate on the matter and for relevant parties to have further consultations."

China blocked India's call to ban the Jaish chief at the UN in April this year, after India accused the militant group and its chief of carrying out the Pathankot attack.

On Feb 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.

India's foreign ministry spokesperson, Vikas Swarup, had said India would move the committee to include Masood Azhar's name. "It is a great anomaly that the organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad is lis­ted, but not its leader," he said.

At least seven Indian military personnel were killed when militants besieged the 2,000-acre Pathankot air base near the border with Pakistan in an attack that stretched on nearly a week.

India blamed the attack on JeM and asked the Pakistani government to take action against the group responsible for the attack.

Following the attack, Pakistani authorities cracked down on the group, sealing a Jaish-run seminary in Sialkot and taking JeM leader Masood Azhar who was in Pakistan at the time into protective custody.

However, Pakistan’s Joint Investigating Team probing the airbase attack told Indian interlocutors earlier this year that it had yet to find evidence linking Masood Azhar to the terror attack.

The air base siege occurred just days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a 'surprise' visit to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and the occasion of his granddaughter's wedding in December 2015 ─ a move that appeared to promise better relations between the neighbouring countries in the coming year.

Earlier this month in the run-up to the Pakistan-India showdown at the UN General Assembly over Kashmir, 18 Indian soldiers were killed when suspected militants attacked the Uri army base in India-held Kashmir (IHK). India accused Pakistan of involvement immediately after the attack ─ a claim that Pakistan rejected.

Following the Uri attack, India initiated a diplomatic drive to isolate Pakistan, which it termed a 'terrorist state', and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to suspend Indus Water Commission talks until "Pakistan-sponsored terror" in India ends, according to Indian media reports.

Reports also surfaced that India is considering expediting its hydropower projects on the Indus river in order to put pressure on Pakistan.

China's move to extend the hold on Masood Azhar comes as tensions simmer between Pakistan and India in the wake of an exchange of fire across the Line of Control (LoC) last week ─ an incident that was termed a 'surgical strike' by India.

On Saturday, China also blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra river as part of a major hydroelectric project, whose construction began in 2014, Indian media reported.

The step may be seen as cautioning New Delhi against moving too far in the latter’s current tussle with Islamabad.