China for the fourth successive time blocked the move to designate Masood Azhar, the Pakistan based Chief of the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) as a “UN designated terrorist”. The JeM outfit is responsible for the Pulwama terror attack in India’s Jammu and Kashmir; that killed more than 40 Indian policemen and led to a new low in Indo-Pak ties. The move to ban Azhar came from US, Britain and France. New Delhi expressed disappointment at China’s move.
In fact, China is Pakistan’s close ally and benefactor. Analysts opine that Beijing is worried that if it goes along with the international community to ban Azhar; it could then face problems on its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and also the JeM might help in flaring up militancy in China’s restive Muslim majority Xinjiang province.
Islamabad has been engaging in double-speak on the JeM. The contradiction between–the civil government and the army was clear immediately after the ‘pre-emptive non-military’ air strikes by India. Pak Army Spokesman Maj.Gen. Asif Gafoor had said JeM does not exist in Pakistan!
The statement had come only days after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi admitted for the first time, that JeM Chief Masood Azhar was in Pakistan and that the government was in touch with him. Mr. Qureshi went on to say that Masood Azhar was “very unwell” and was not in a position to come out of his house. Soon after the Pulwama terror attack, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had offered to investigate the involvement of JeM in the attack if New Delhi provided “actionable evidence”. The offer was repeated several times, only to mislead public opinion. But Islamabad refused to act against the outfit even after it had claimed responsibility for the heinous attack. It was in this backdrop that Pak Army had backtracked to say that the outfit did not exist at all in Pakistan.
The JeM is in fact, an “asset” for Pakistan. Former Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has recently said that JeM is very much based in Pakistan and has been used to launch attacks in India. The organization, he said, also made two unsuccessful attempts on his own life. Pakistan Government’s claim that the action against terrorist groups was being taken under its’ National Action Plan and because of the commitments made to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was nothing but an eye wash to mislead world opinion. This is vindicated by the fact that despite JeM issuing a statement to own Pulwama attack, Pakistan refuses to accept that JeM was responsible for the attacks.
It is a fact that Pakistan has never been sincere in dealing firmly with terror outfits. After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, it had even refused to accept that Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist of the group of 10 arrested alive by India and hanged after trial, was a Pakistani citizen. But when the global media proved that he indeed was a Pakistani citizen, Pakistan had to accept the reality.
New Delhi has always been taking up the issue of cross border terrorism with the UN. Until the leading countries send a strong message, nothing is going to change on the ground in Pakistan. China, as a responsible permanent member of the UN Security Council should play a more responsible role in fighting this global menace. It was thought since China was a signatory to the UN resolution that condemned in the “strongest terms”, the Pulwama attack that Beijing might go along with other P5 members to proscribe Azhar. But, China put a ‘technical hold’ on the move to support Islamabad.
India, meanwhile has said that it would “pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorists involved in heinous attacks on Indian citizens are brought to justice”.
Script: Ashok Handoo, Political Commentator