U.K. optimistic China would allow UNSC listing of Masood Azhar as terrorist

The United Kingdom is “optimistic” that China would allow the U.N. Security Council terror listing of Masood Azhar, British High Commissioner Dominic Asquith said in New Delhi on April 26.

“We are waiting to see whether the country, which has been resisting the listing will lift that objection,” Mr. Asquith told journalists. “I remain optimistic that we will get to that conclusion. We have been strong supporters of the (UNSC) listing of Masood Azhar for a decade. So I hope we will get to that conclusion shortly,” he added.

The issue of Masood Azhar is likely to be discussed during the upcoming visit of top U.K. diplomat and head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Simon McDonald, who will meet Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on May 10 in New Delhi.

After the Pulwama terror attack, the U.K., the U.S. and France pursued the listing of the Jaish-e-Mohammad leader, first ensuring a UNSC statement was issued condemning JeM specifically, and then followed it up with a proposal to designate Azhar as a terrorist at the UNSC 1267 Taliban Sanctions Committee. After China placed a hold on the designation on March 13, the three countries had tried to take a tougher line, threatening China with bringing the proposal to the full U.N. Security Council, and “publicly shaming” the Chinese government into agreeing to the proposal. While none of the moves appear to have moved Beijing thus far, MEA officials say they are more optimistic after Mr. Gokhale’s visit to Beijing last week, where he raised the subject.

In a press statement on April 22, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that Mr. Gokhale had “shared with China all evidences of terrorist activities of Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leader Masood Azhar,” and now awaited the decision of the 1267 Sanctions Committee as well as of “other authorised bodies of the UN”.

According to UNSC rules, China has until September 2019 to lift the hold or ask for another extension of three months to decide on the Azhar listing, which it has vetoed on several occasions in the past decade. Officials say they are keen to see movement on the issue before the next summit level meeting of the Prime Minister with Chinese President Xi Jinping in India, being planned in the months following the elections.


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