[Editorial] Designation of Terrorists & the Chinese Impediment

What are the recent developments?

  • Recently, India and the USA proposed the designation of Rauf Azhar as a global terrorist on the UNSC 1267 Committee listing.
    • Azhar is the deputy chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistan-based terror outfit.
    • He is most noted for his role in the 1999 hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 and holding of some 200 civilians hostage in Kandahar. He did this to free his brother, Masood Azhar.
    • He is also known for his role in the 2001 Parliament attack and targeting of the Pathankot base in 2016.
    • He is reported to be in Pakistani prison following conviction on terror-related charges.
    • He features in the ‘most wanted terrorists’ lists of India and USA.
  • However, China has blocked the proposal.

Why is China blocking such designations?

  • China alone has placed a ‘technical hold’ on the joint proposal while all the other 14 member states have backed the move to label Azhar.
  • It said that it needed more time to assess the proposal. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman even highlighted the UN provisions for scheduling and other related procedures involved in terrorist designations.
  • The Chinese move is believed to be politically motivated, given its reluctance in admitting nearly all such proposals concerning Pakistan-based terrorists in the past.
  • This political tilt of the action is also evident from its coming despite documents with ‘incontrovertible evidence’ being provided to the member nations.

Why is this significant?

  • This isn’t the 1st such impediment from China’s side. Just 2 months ago, China blocked the designation of Abdul Rahman Makki, the deputy chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
  • Such actions are undermining the sanctity of the functioning of the UNSC Sanctions Committee.
  • These comes at a time when India-China ties is already at a fragile point.
    • The LAC standoff issue is yet to be resolved despite 16 rounds of military commander talks.
    • The 2 sides are witnessing rising tensions in the maritime sphere this week. This is because of the proposed docking of a Chinese satellite tracking vessel at the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka- much to the concern of neighbouring India.
    • Chinese tech firms in India are facing a number of raids by the authorities of Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department. This is because of suspicions of financial crimes.

What is the way ahead for India?

  • The recent Chinese move is a part of a pattern of the Chinese leadership holding up such listings for many years now.
  • It is important for India and its allies to persevere in designating the likes of Azhar and Makki, without losing faith in the international rules-based process.
  • Keeping up the international pressure and roping in more co-sponsors for the proposal could help.
  • There is also a need to alter the procedures under 1267 Committee framework. This is to prevent member states from holding back important listings without due cause.
  • There is also a need to open bilateral dialogues with Pakistan and China on this issue. India could leverage Pakistan’s need to get off the FATF grey list and China’s interest in the economic recovery of Pakistan.
  • Also, China too is facing terror threats from Pakistan. Dialogue could help with Chinese double speak and double standards on this matter.
  • Given the ultimate goal behind such listings being holding perpetrators accountable, the emphasis must be on working through all available avenues.

Conclusion:

For China to take such a measure on such a serious issue is, at the least, insensitive. However, India and its allies should persevere using all available avenues and take forth the internationally shared responsibility of combating terrorism.

Practice Question for Mains:

China has been blocking several proposals to designate perpetrators of terror as global terrorists. What are the implications and how can the fight against terrorism be taken forward? (250 words)

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