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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Will China block move to declare Masood Azhar as 'global terrorist'

Terrorism is bad ! ~ India is seething in anger after Pulwama .. .. meantime, three permanent members of the UNSC -- the United States, Britain and France -- have moved a resolution to designate Azhar as a global terrorist.

Whilst some Indian politicians still are on denial mode – immediately after the gruesome killing, Masood Azhar-led JeM claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack.  News from Washington confirms that : US, UK, France have proposed move to designate Azhar as global terrorist; China has repeatedly blocked moves to ban him claiming lack of evidence.  Masood Azhar meets the criteria to be designated as a global terrorist and not doing so is against regional stability and peace, the US said on Tuesday, a day ahead of the crucial meeting at UN Security Council on the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief.

Masood Azhar heads the Jaish-e-Mohammed or JeM, which had carried out many terror strikes in India and was also involved in the attack on Parliament, the Pathankot air force base, army camps in Jammu and Uri. The Pak-based terror outfit had also claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on Central Reserve Police Force or CRPF in Pulwama which claimed the lives of 40 personnel. Three permanent members of the UNSC -- the United States, Britain and France -- have moved a resolution to designate Azhar as a global terrorist.

The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) is a report published annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), and was developed by IT entrepreneur and IEP's founder Steve Killelea. The index provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism since 2000.  It is an attempt to systematically rank the nations of the world according to terrorist activity. The index combines a number of factors associated with terrorist attacks to build an explicit picture of the impact of terrorism, illustrating trends, and providing a data series for analysis by researchers and policymakers.

There is a growing interest in the subcontinent and elsewhere on developments at the United Nations Security Council on March 13. Indications suggest that by 3 pm that afternoon, if none of the Permanent Five (P5) members object, Masood Azhar, the chief of Pakistan-based terror organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed, will be declared a “global terrorist.” But if the move gets stymied, as in the past, it will certainly bring the focus back on China—Pakistan’s main backer—for scuttling the move at the world’s highest security forum. It will then allow the anti-Chinese lobby in India to let out its steam against Beijing.

However, what happens next if the UNSC initiative successfully designates Azhar as “global terrorist” is a question that is also being seriously looked at by foreign policy practitioners in Delhi and other capitals. Will it force Pakistan to start serious action against the terror outfits operating from its soil? Or will Islamabad allow the immediate crisis to pass before allowing the terrorists to get back on their feet and go about their business as they have been doing in the past? That will be the real test for Imran Khan !  ~ so today’s outcome will impact not only the South Asian neighbours but also their relations with key International players.

There is no doubt that the outcome of Wednesday’s development will impact not only the South Asian neighbours but also their relations with key international players. JeM had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama ‘fidayeen’ attack on the CRPF convoy that killed 40 security personnel. Listing Azhar as a “global terrorist” will undoubtedly be seen as a major ’diplomatic victory’ for India. Delhi had been lobbying to build international opinion against the menace that Pakistan-based terror outfits pose for India and the region’s stability. If it goes according to the Indian script, then the other two members—China and Russia—will also support the initiative of France, the United States and the United Kingdom at the UNSC.

The Pulwama attack last month had prompted India to strike at the JeM's facilities at Balakot, deep inside Pakistan. The Indian action led Pakistan to send in its fighter jets into Indian airspace which were chased away by Indian Air Force planes.  India has been demanding closure of all terror warehouses in neighbouring country and  the  development at the UNSC could well be the first step in the fight against terrorism emanating out of Pakistan. A proscribed terrorist or his organisation faces a travel ban preventing him leaving the country, an arms embargo and curb on his financial assistance and funding.  India is working with the US and other world powers to keep up the pressure on Pakistan and force it to act on the terror outfits based in its territory.

For today’s meeting, the United States has urged China to not block Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar's listing as a global terrorist at the United Nations Security Council meeting.    "..., I would say that 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," Robert Palladino, the US Department of State's Deputy Spokesperson stated on Tuesday (local time). "JeM is a United Nations-designated terrorist group. Azhar is the founder and the leader of JeM, and he meets the criteria for designation by the United Nations. JEM has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a threat to regional stability and peace," Palladino said at a media briefing.

Pakistan's military spokesperson, Major General Asif Ghafoor, on the other hand, has denied the presence of JeM in their country - a claim which has been widely ridiculed. "It is regrettable Pakistan continues to deny JeM involvement in Pulwama attack. Is Pakistan defending Jaish and being its spokesperson? Till today Pakistan has failed to take any credible action against Jaish. (then how come some political parties in India hail Imran Khan ?) Terrorist camps in Pakistan are in the public domain...All members of UNSC are aware of JeM camps in Pakistan and the presence of Masood Azhar in the country.

With so much happening in International arena, came the gaffe - Rahul Gandhi’s reference to terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad’s head as “Masood Azhar ji”.  Addressing a meeting of Congress workers, Gandhi attacked the BJP, and reportedly called the global terrorist Masood azharji .. despicable, it sounds.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
13th Mar 2019.

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