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China gets ultimatum to lift 'technical' hold on Masood Azhar

Author: Sachin Parashar | TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: April 12, 2019
URL:    https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/china-gets-ultimatum-to-lift-technical-hold-on-azhar/articleshow/68840398.cms

The campaign for an international ban on Masood Azhar, the Pakistan based leader of UN-designated terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), is gaining steam at the UN Security Council. The proposers of the resolution to ban Azhar - US, UK and France - have asked China to lift its  "technical" hold on the ban proposed in the UNSC  1267 sanctions committee in the next couple of weeks or face another resolution for the same in the Council.

Even as negotiations continue, a western diplomatic source said Beijing had been provided time tentatively until April 23 to lift the hold before a proposal for proscribing Azhar is officially and directly introduced in the Council, bypassing the 1267 committee.

This parallel resolution in the Council had been circulated informally among the 15 member states but not tabled officially, allowing for informal discussions to see if China could be persuaded to review its position on Azhar.

So far though, there has been no indication of Beijing considering lifting its hold on the ban which is necessary for imposing travel restrictions on Azhar and freezing his assets.

Efforts for a ban on Azhar were renewed by the US and France after the February 14 Pulwama attack carried out by JeM. China though for the 4th time sought to block his listing by the 1267 committee by putting the proposed ban on what it describes as a technical hold. Frustrated by Beijing's hold, the US informally circulated another draft resolution for consideration of the members in the Council.

Beijing described the US move as not constructive and as setting a bad example. This was the first time a draft resolution had been moved directly in the Council for a ban on a terrorist of interest to India.

Depending on how China responds, a decision will be taken in the 4th week of April on whether or not the draft resolution should be put formally on the table, TOI has learnt.

After the resolution is tabled, another round of consultations is likely on the specifics of the document. The resolution can then be put to vote. The US and others including India will hope that China will abstain allowing the ban to go through.

During the consultations, the Council members can also call for a public debate on the issue, forcing China to explain before the world why it continued to support a dreaded terrorist like Azhar.

China has indicated to India that it is willing to have constructive discussions on the issue of Azhar. "On the issue of listing in the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council, China attaches importance to and understands India’s concerns and is willing to strengthen communication with India to find a proper solution," said Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui in a newspaper article recently.

However, the issue of Azhar's ban can't also be prolonged indefinitely at the UNSC. China's hold can last for 9 months and it's perhaps in everybody's interest that the issue is resolved, either way, much earlier.
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