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Will China release its hold on Masood Azhar?


New Delhi, May 01: China has indicated that the issue relating to Maulana Masood Azhar will be properly resolved. The issue relating to the listing of Azhar the chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad at the UN has been a contentious one with China being the stumbling block.

China put a technical hold in March on a fresh proposal to impose a ban on the head of Pakistan-based JeM which claimed responsibility for the deadly Pulwama terror attack. It was for the fourth time, China blocked Azhar's listing as a global terrorist by the UN.

File photo of Maulana Masood Azhar

Although there has been no time-line given, if China does lift the technical hold, it would be a major diplomatic victory for India. China has on four occasions stood in the way of Azhar being listed.

In the aftermath of the attacks at Pathankot, Uri, Pulwama, India has rallied several nations to get Azhar listed. China being a veto wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council has however blocked India's move.

Positive progress made on Masood Azhar's blacklisting, says China

This time, there has been a lot of pressure on China internationally and India is hopeful that its diplomatic moves on this issue would see a change in stand.

This issue has been debated several times in the past. The issue relating to Azhar is not just bi-lateral between China and Pakistan.

China has called Pakistan an all weather friend, while Azhar the man himself has called China the almighty. Apart from these aspects and the fact that Azhar guards China's assets in Pakistan it is also to ensure that India does not become supreme in the region.

Moreover China does not want India having its say in the UN. China has also been instrumental in blocking India's NSG bid several times. It is a case of being supreme and throwing its clout around says an informed officer in New Delhi. The officer says that although all nations say it openly that the war against terror is important, the fact of the matter is that all are divided in their approach. There are different equations at play.

The stakes in Afghanistan are very high. Russian President Vladimir Putin in fact changed the country's long standing policy against the US in Afghanistan. US was able to take over Afghanistan after Putin allowed the US set up base in Central Asia. China too has a major stake in Afghanistan and the recent statement by the Taliban in which it said it would not target infrastructure projects in Afghanistan is also significant. China has high stakes in Afghanistan and would not want that to be disturbed.

Any move in the UN on Azhar is likely to change China's equation with the Taliban which is considered to be close to the Jaish-e-Mohammad boss. More control in the UN for India would also tilt the balance against China. Officials explain that the reason for the block goes beyond the all weather friend or Azhar playing bouncer for Chinese investments in Pakistan. It is all about supremacy in the region, the officer also explains.

While this has been the equation all these years, it is to be seen what China would do at the UNSC. "I can only say that I believe that this will be properly resolved," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing.

"Regarding the listing issue in the 1267 Committee, we have expressed our position many times and I just want to stress two points," Geng said answering a number of questions on Azhar's issue.

"First, we support the listing issue being settled within the 1267 committee through dialogue and consultation and I believe this is the consensus of most members. Second, the relevant consultations are going on within the committee and has achieved some progress. Third, I believe, with the joint efforts of all parties, this issue can be properly resolved," he said.

UK optimistic of Masood Azhar's listing as global terrorist by UN

On reports that China would lift its technical hold on May 1, he said, "on the listing issue, China is still working with the relevant parties and we are in contact with all relevant parties within the 1267 Committee and I believe with the joint efforts of all parties, this will be properly resolved."

Asked about the recent visit of Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale to Beijing during which he held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as well as New Delhi shared the technical evidence of JeM's involvement in the Pulwama terror attack, Geng reiterated that China is still working with the relevant parties.

"I believe with the joint efforts of all parties, this will be properly resolved," he said.

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