SCO backing curtails Azhar movements

-:R Muthu Kumar:-
In a huge diplomatic victory for India, the UN Security Council (UNSC) declared Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, two-and-half months after his outfit carried out the ghastly terror attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama. India has welcomed the move saying that “it is a step in the right direction”.
A veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, China was the sole hold-out in the 15-nation body on the bid to blacklist Azhar, blocking attempts by placing a “technical hold” and asking for “more time to examine” the proposal.
The UN ban will subject Azhar to an assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo
Key factors appeared to have weighed in more heavily in the Chinese decision to designate Azhar. China’s move followed Russia’s decision last month to honour Mr. Modi with ‘Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First,’ –Russia’s highest civilian award, in the midst of the election campaign. Analysts say both China and Russia, in the cross-hairs of the U.S., would want New Delhi to consolidate its ties with Eurasia on Mr. Modi’s watch, rather than allow India to drift further in the direction of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific strategy. India is already a member of the Eurasia-centred Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
A Chinese official said Beijing had decided to announce Azhar’s listing after the Belt and Road Forum (BRF), so as not to embarrass visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was Beijing’s guest at the conclave that ended on April 27.
In listing Azhar, the Chinese have taken care of protecting Pakistani interests as well, signaling that Beijing is interested in a “dual engagement” with India and Pakistan in South Asia. Observers point out that Pakistan may not be averse to Azhar’s designation, as it could help Islamabad avoid being “blacklisted” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) later this month — a move that could advance Islamabad’s economic isolation.
The UN sanctions committee on the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda on Wednesday announced the designation of Azhar, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), over its ties to Al-Qaeda.
The JeM has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama suicide attack that killed 40 CRPF soldiers and led to a spike in military tensions between India and Pakistan.
Reacting to the development, Garrett Marquis, spokesperson of the National Security Council, White House said: “Designating Azhar demonstrates international commitment to rooting out terrorism in Pakistan and bringing security and stability to south Asia”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also welcomed the move and said that it is a victory for the American diplomacy and the international community against terrorism.
Pompeo also congratulated the US mission in the UN which took the lead in America”s diplomatic effort to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, after China finally lifted its nearly 10-year technical hold on such an effort by India, the United States and other permanent members of the Security Council including Britain and France.
Pakistan has said it would “immediately enforce the sanctions” imposed by the UN on JeM chief Masood Azhar and said it agreed to his listing after all “political references”, including attempts to link him to the Pulwama attack were removed from the proposal.

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