In a major diplomatic win for India, the United Nations declared Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, a global terrorist. The decision from UN Security Council’s 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee came after China lifted its technical hold, imposed on March 13, on a proposal made by US, UK and France to this end. An UNSC designation will subject Azhar to an assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo. More than a diplomatic victory, it is the solidarity and the united face shown by the world against the terrorism, is what is noteworthy. But, does mere designating Azar as a global terrorist, close India’s chapter in its quest to curb terror in the region? Has this listing, by any means, aided India’s fight against terrorism or does it make India a safer place?
It is a certitude that with Pakistan, there is much more than what meets the eye. Pakistan’s terror stratagem against India thrives on two pillars, JeM and LeT, and ceding on either of the two so easily doesn’t seem to be a conceivable option for Pakistan as of now. Hafiz Saeed, an already designated global terrorist; 26/11 mastermind and LeT chief, roams freely, addresses rallies and is known to have been running a political party along with many NGO’s, unabated, with no interference from the Pakistan Government.
What is mystifying is that, in what manner this listing of Azhar is going to help? And where is the assurance that this time Pakistan would be disparate in Azhar’s case? It is also ludicrous that Jaish as an organisation was designated as a terrorist group way back in 2001 yet Azhar, as the group leader, was escaping these strictures till now. If mere banning of terrorists could stop terror, then terrorism would have been wiped off the global map long back.
In the present narrative, Pakistan has two options, first is to rein-in Azhar as per the UN mandate and second,is to implement the UN curbs initially and eventually use Azhar the way they have deviously employed Hafiz. Axiomatically, the latter option appears to be most probable as the discussion on moving Pakistan from FATF’s “Greylist” to “Blacklist”, is slated during its June plenary. According to MEA spokesperson, Mr Raveesh Kumar, Pakistan has to “demonstrate effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions (supported by a comprehensive legal obligation) against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services.” This impending meeting of FATF is very climacteric for Islamabad as nothing has hurt Pakistan so much, as much as FATF sanctions, post Pulwama strike. That is probably why the Pakistan Government, deftly issued a notification, to implement the UN sanctions immediately after its designation of Azhar as a global terrorist,
The banning of Azhar, besides being a triumph against terror, has few more ramifications with interesting content. China’s abdication of Islamabad, by fostering the UN designation to pass, has assuredly made Pakistan feeling abjured. A lesson learnt by Pakistan that it solely can’t take Chinese support for granted in future. Though China did oblige its ‘friend’ by toning down the language of the UN resolution, much to Pakistan’s liking, but the seeds of suspicion presumably would have been sown in Islamabad’s mind. The earlier draft had unequivocally condemned the Pulwama attack and had also named Jaish for the attack which was conspicuously expunged in the approved resolution. (Author in his previous article, ‘Banning of JeM Chief: China’s Quandary’, had in-fact predicted the same stand by China). It surely would remain ambiguous, as to why the censure of the Pulwama attack, the sole impetus for this resolution, was dropped from the final resolution.
Interestingly, what possible could have been China’s quandary to have finally accepted the banning?
Indubitably, prime mover to induce or coerce China have been the combined efforts of the US, the UK and France as they relentlessly pushed China, even threatening to shame it with a public vote at the UNSC. Presumably, it could also be due to China receiving a ‘go ahead’ from Islamabad as Azhar has outlived his usefulness for the Pakistani establishment, which they conveyed it to China.
For India, this epilogue surely has helped its cause to again focus world’s attention on Pakistan and the terrorist groups it harbours. US also has immensely gained a point or two over China in the world order as well as gained a moral high ground to pressurise Pakistan to deliver on Afghanistan. Apparently, China’s only gain has been slight resurrection of its image in the world.
Despite the unflinching support, India in its assessment, cannot negate factoring-in intentions of the nations who supported its cause. A plausible question which might ticker is, whether the support was out of their genuine concern or they had vested interests for which they would now turn back to demand favours in return. France has heavy stakes in the Rafale deal which is underway; US is already demanding that India stops buying oil from Iran which contributes around 10% to India’s oil imports and UK has high stakes in its strong trade and diaspora bonding with India. Above all, the ever growing Indian thirst for arms import cannot be underestimated for the resolute support rendered by these nations. However, whatever were the intentions or compulsions, the reality is that banning of Azhar, which had become a key issue for India, has now finally been effected.
What are the future challenges now?
The first one would be in ensuring that Azhar’s ban doesn’t remain a farce. It is therefore pertinent and paramount for India to follow it up. Scepticism of Pakistan’s intentions should propel India in ensuring efficacious execution of UN sanctions through its ‘consistent’ and ‘persistent’ diplomatic approach. India needs to be wary of Pakistan’s dubious designs as they would try to keep Azhar off the radar, like they did after the 2001 attack on India’s Parliament, and prop up Hafiz Saeed and its proxies in the interregnum to take care of Pakistan’s needs against India.
New Delhi must put in place a long-term plan that combines hard power options like the land and air surgical strikes alongwith relentless diplomatic pressure on all fronts, including talks with Pakistan if it makes genuine concessions. India also needs to cash-on this triumph and must continue working with the West. It is significantly apposite to make the world perceive that in the present terror landscape, Pakistan is the ‘pivot’ and ‘epicentre’, requiring emergent tackling. World also is required to be showcased that in Pakistan, end of one Azhar gives birth to an ‘another one’. Peace can only prevail in the region if Islamabad shuts down its ‘jihadist factories’ which can only eventuate if its Army wants.
To constructively tackle the paradox of Pakistan, the world has two alternatives; the Pakistan Army and China. The terror edifice of Pakistan is like a balloon, wherever you press, the air pushes towards the other side, till its mouth is opened. In this analogy, China seems to be the mouth of Pakistan’s terror balloon. China if suitable engaged, the way it has been cornered now, then its acolyte, Pakistan, would automatically follow. Besides, China being an opportunist and self-centred nation, if positively pursued by the world, can conclusively rein-in Pakistan and its ‘terror factory’, yielding tangible results. Thus, world needs a bi-partisan, multi-pronged policy to persuade China. Time is also ripe as China has invested heavily in BRI and is precariously placed for its completion. Time on the other side however seems to be ticking down for India, as it faces multi-faceted internal security dilemma’s ranging from Pakistan sponsored terror to naxal menace and the ISIS threat which seems to be looming and knocking at India’s door. Consequently, suffice to say that albeit the battle has been won but, the war still lingers on..
1. Masood Azhar banned, Pakistan to prop up Lashkar if Jaish goes off radar, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pak-will-prop-up-let-if-jem-goes-off-the-radar/story-5bkpMOPswOjOJcVusDPRbN.html 2. ‘New evidence made China relent on Masood Azhar’, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/may/04/new-evidence-made-china-relent-on-azhar-1972495.html 3. India welcomes UN listing of Masood Azhar as global terrorist, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-welcomes-un-listing-of-masood-azhar-as-global-terrorist-pm-modi-calls-it-big-success/articleshow/69135270.cms