China’s move on JeM chief Masood Azhar’s reflecting UN’s handicap

China’s move on JeM chief Masood Azhar’s reflecting UN’s handicap

Masood Azhar, head of Pakistan’s militant Jaish-e-Mohammad party, attends a pro-Taliban conference organised by the Afghan Defence Council in Islamabad August 26, 2001. Reuters/Files


-Aman Baldia

If you are a follower of International Affairs, a major story that would have caught your attention in the beginning of November was China blocking the bid of India and later that of US, France, and the UK to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as a UN-designated terrorist in the United Nations Security Council. China is the only country in the 15 membered UNSC to oppose the ban. The news of blocking the move third time in a row attracted a lot of criticism on the double standards of Beijing in its war against terror. Previously in February 2016, China had blocked this move and in the month of August, an extension of 3 months to block this move was asked for. The reasons stated by Beijing was the lack of consensus in the 1267 Sanctions committee of the United Nations. This vote by Beijing once again exposed the handicap of United Nations to have vital resolutions being hampering by the veto of Permanent 5.

United Nations Security Council is the most powerful organ of the United Nations. It is the only organ whose decisions are binding on the member nations of the UN, whereas all the other resolutions passed by the other committees of UN are treated as suggestions. This 15-member council consists of 5 Permanent members namely the United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China. These countries have veto power where one negative vote from any of these nations is enough to reject a Draft Resolution despite the amount of support it has from rest of the member nations. This power has been consistently used by these countries (Russia/USSR – 104, US – 79, France – 16, UK – 29, China – 9) without any explanation. This remains one of the major reasons why the G4 and other nations have been aiming for reforms in the United Nations Security Council.

So what makes Masood Azhar so important for India, UK, the USA and France to sanction and for China to not?

Masood Azhar is the Chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan based UN declared Terrorist organization. He is held responsible by Indian authorities for the 2001 Delhi Parliament attacks, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and the 2016 Pathankot attacks. Interestingly, he was arrested on Indian soil in the year 1994 in Srinagar and in order to free him, there was a group of foreign tourists who were kidnapped for his release in 1995. However, one hostage was able to get away and the rest were killed in this failed attempt. His followers did not stop there and in the year 1999, they hijacked Indian Airlines flight 814 where eventually the Indian government had to release him, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh in return for the safe release of all the 176 passengers of this flight. This infamous incident is known to most today due to the pop culture which triggered the making of a lot of plane hijack movies using this plot in India. Masood, soon after his release was found in Karachi making an address to 10,000 people openly stating that his mission does not end till India ceases to exist. Pakistan however, maintained that he does not face any charges in Pakistan and thus is allowed to return home. Since then Masood Azhar has given multiple anti-India and anti-west speeches publicly which the Pakistan Government has turned a blind eye to. In aftermath of 2008 or Pathankot attacks, Pakistan claimed to put Masood Azhar to house arrest to settle the situation, only to let him free shortly. The explanation of why China has been so insistent to oppose this ban can be coherent on Beijing’s previous statement with regards to Pakistan being its all-weather ally, the building of a 51 billion dollar corridor passing through Pakistan for trade purposes, the current Dokhlam tensions with India, the Sino-India strains regarding the Dalai Lama being given refuge in India when Beijing considers him as an equivalent to Masood Azhar or the fear of having another major player in Asia.

Irrespective the reason, this move has again rekindled the dire need of having reforms in UN Security Council in order to address the current scenario of International Security. Failing to do so, the fear of United Nations becoming irrelevant largely looms on this peacekeeping Organisation. Change is the only constant and the United Nations must change with time.

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