20:00 GMT26 October 2020
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    An Indian foreign policy expert told Sputnik that in contrast to its earlier approach, Beijing has been vocally critical of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) for killing more than 40 Indian soldiers in its 14 February attack, strongly indicating that it may choose not to block UN Security Council efforts to designate JeM's founder Masood Azhar as a terrorist.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): Amid efforts by the international community to prevent India-Pakistan cross-border hostilities from escalating further, three members of the United Nations Security Council, the US, UK and France, have proposed blacklisting Masood Azhar, the chief of the Pakistan-based jihadi organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). 

    "Unilateral efforts need to be amplified by multilateral efforts. We call on the international community to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leadership", the US State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Nathan Sales, recently tweeted.

    JeM had claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing on February 14, which targeted Indian paramilitary forces in the Pulwama region of Kashmir. The organisation is currently black-listed by the UN Security Council, but its founder and head Masood Azhar is not, as China has been reluctant to condemn him ever since the first proposal to blacklist Azhar was introduced by the UN Security Council in 2016; it was subsequently re-introduced in 2017 and 2018. 

    However, Indian foreign policy expert Alok Bansal, a current director with the India Foundation, a top policy think tank, opined that though China has dug its heels by not supporting the UNSC move to not declare Masood Azhar a global terrorist on previous occasions, recent indications emanating from Beijing suggest that following the suicide bombing that killed more than 40 Indian paramilitary personnel, Beijing may have changed its perception.

    "Although it is really hard to pre-judge the Chinese move regarding the latest proposal by US, France and UK to declare Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, as on all previous occasions China has blocked such moves, considering the recent statements by China, especially after the Pulwama terror attack and also after the Indian Air force strike in Balakot at the JeM terror camps, they are seen to be softening their stand. Therefore, this time we hope China will understand not only India's but global aspirations to put a ban on the jihadist chief of JeM, which has been involved in the Pulwama terror attack," Bansal told Sputnik. 

    On the record, China has condemned the attack in Pulwama, with the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Geng Shuang telling the media "We firmly oppose and strongly condemn all forms of terrorism. We hope the relevant regional countries will cooperate to cope with the threat of terrorism and jointly uphold regional peace and stability." 

    But it has not yet commented on the new proposal before the Security Council to blacklist Masood Azhar.

    The three proposing nations have asked the 15-member Security Council Sanctions Committee to subject Azhar to an arms embargo, ban his travel globally and freeze his assets. As the committee operates through consensus, it can raise objections to the proposal until 13 March. 

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speakers and do not reflect the official position of Sputnik. 

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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