Delay in Azhar ban bad for region

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The JeM, headed by the 50-year-old Azhar, carried out many terror strikes in India and was involved in the attack on Parliament, the Pathankot air force base, army camps in Jammu and Uri, and the latest suicide attack on CRPF in Pulwama which claimed the lives of 40 personnel.

The United States on Tuesday cautioned China that the failure of the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) move to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) founder Masood Azhar a terrorist, would “run counter” to the shared goal of the two countries of achieving peace and stability in the region. A sanctions committee of the UNSC will close the mandatory 10-day period on Wednesday for objections to a proposal moved by France, the United States and the United Kingdom to declare Azhar a terrorist, subjecting him to sanctions that require UN member countries to not host, arm and fund him.

If none of the committee’s 15 members posts an objection - a complete block or a “technical hold” - by 3 pm US eastern time (12:30 am, March 14, in India), Azhar would be added to the list, joining his own outfit JeM and a host of Pakistan-based terrorists and their organizations and fronts, such as Hafiz Saeed and the other group he founded, Lashkar-e-Toiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai massacre. “The United States and China share a mutual interest in achieving regional stability and peace, and that a failure to designate Azhar would run counter to this goal,” Robert Palladino, the state department deputy spokesperson, told reporters in response to a question.

China holds the key to the designation proposal, the fourth so far. All the previous attempts were blocked by Beijing, batting for all-weather friend Pakistan, which has opposed the designation even as it pretends to have cleaned up its act by staging crackdowns every time it has faced global scrutiny, as it has now after Pulwama. Beijing put a “technical hold” on all three previous proposals - the first by India, second by the US, the UK and France jointly and the third by the US alone - seeking more information or citing lack of consensus. The effect, either way, has been the same: the failure to designate Azhar, a known terrorist who is based in Pakistan and with his organization and thrives under the protection of the Pakistani state.

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