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WASHINGTON: China blocked a move on Wednesday to turn India’s military embarrassment into a diplomatic advantage by declaring Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masud Azhar a UN-designated global terrorist.

The Al Qaeda sanctions committee of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) took up the proposed measure but China’s objection prevented India from taking advantage of the move.

The committee has the same 11 members as the UNSC, including the permanent five — the US, Russia, China, Britain and France, which also have veto powers. If a UNSC member objects, the move ends. If not, it is considered adopted, binding all UN members, including Pakistan, to take punitive actions against the targeted individual or outfit.

There is no formal voting and the members usually express their opinions by email, either endorsing or rejecting the move.

US, Britain and France jointly moved measure in UNSC committee on Feb 27

This year, Kuwait and Indonesia are also in the UNSC, which makes them members of this body as well, known as the Committee 1267, after a resolution that created it.

It was not yet clear whether they endorsed or rejected the move, but in the past Kuwait had endorsed the proposed designation.

The United States said earlier that it would continue to work with the sanctions committee to ensure that Masud Azhar was declared a global terrorist, even if he escaped the designation on Wednesday.

The United States, Britain and France jointly moved the measure in the sanctions committee on Feb 27 — allowing India to turn the military embarrassment it faced after its disastrous violations of Pakistani airspace late last month, when the Pakistan Air Force brought down two Indian Air Force planes.

China hinted earlier on Wed­nesday that it might once again block the move as it had done on three previous occasions.

“We’ll continue to work with the (UN) sanctions committee to ensure that the designation list is updated and accurate,” said the US State Department’s spokesperson Robert Palladino when asked to react to an expected Chinese veto.

A Chinese official told journalists in Beijing that China would support a “solution that is acceptable to all sides” and “is conducive” to resolving the issue.

“I could reiterate that China will continue to adopt responsible attitude and participate in the deliberations in the UNSC 1267 Committee,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a media briefing.

At a similar briefing in Washington, Mr Palladino told journalists that the United States and India “work closely together” on counterterrorism efforts, and that includes at the United Nations.

“Our views on Jaish-e-Mohammad and its founder are well known. JeM is a UN-designated terrorist group. Azhar is the founder and the leader of JeM, and he meets the criteria for designation by the United Nations,” he said.

The US official also said that JeM was responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and Washington considered it “a threat to regional stability and peace”.

Addressing a question about China’s voting pattern on this issue, Mr Palladino said: “The United States and China share a mutual interest in achieving regional stability and peace, and that a failure to designate Azhar would run counter to this goal.”

The US counter-terrorism cooperation with India was also highlighted in a joint statement issued in Washington after a Tuesday afternoon meeting between Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and his American counterpart Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.

“Both sides called on Pakistan to meaningfully address the concerns of the international community on terrorism, including cross-border terrorism,” it said.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2019