The US and China are at a crossroads in the war against terror — all over one man in Pakistan


  • The US moved a draft resolution, supported by France and the UK, today in the United Nations Security Council to blacklist Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.
  • This was the second proposal in less than two weeks to add the tag of a ‘global terrorist’ to Azhar, the man who masterminded the Pulwama attacks in Kashmir on February 14th.
  • On March 13th, China blocked the proposal from being adopted by the Sanctions Committee - the fourth time it had done so in the past 10 years.
Washington and Beijing have largely been on the same side of the war on terror for over a decade now, except on one issue that has now led to a heated exchange of words between the two administrations.

The US moved a draft resolution, supported by France and the UK, today in the United Nations Security Council to blacklist Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar. This was the second proposal in less than two weeks to add the tag of a ‘global terrorist’ to Azhar, the man who masterminded the Pulwama attacks in Kashmir on February 14 in which over 40 Indian security personnel were killed.

The proposal on March 13th was blocked by China. The second proposal today has been followed by an exchange of barbs between officials from both Washington and Beijing.

Speaking on the draft resolution, the US Secretary of State was quick to denounce China. “On one hand, China abuses more than a million Muslims at home, but on the other, it protects violent Islamic terrorist groups from sanctions at the UN.” Pompeo said in a press briefing.

This is reportedly the first time the three countries have moved a draft resolution directly to the Security Council for the blacklisting of Azhar, according to PTI.

In response to the latest resolution, China alleged that the US had circumvented UN procedures in directly filing and circulating the resolution since it had bypassed the UN’s Sanctions Committee.

As opposed to a “hold” on a proposal to the Sanctions Committee, a veto by China will make its stance on Azhar very clear.

So, why are US and China sparring over Masood Azhar?

Masood Azhar is the mastermind behind the Islamic fundamentalist group JeM, which mainly operates in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India has repeatedly accused JeM for training youths to be terrorists and sending them across to the Indian side as attackers. One such suicide bomber was behind the attack in Pulwama last month.

The political and military reactions to the attack nearly triggered a war between India and Pakistan. While the US was able to intervene [hyperlink] and tone down the tension just in time, India escalated its diplomatic assault and accused Pakistan of sheltering terrorists.

New Delhi has been trying to blacklist Azhar for years, having got the support of all the UN’s permanent members except China.

China’s support for Azhar stems from its purported “all-weather friendship” with Pakistan.

The question in front of Beijing is the cost it is willing to bear for its tactical stance to back Pakistan against India in South Asia.

Meanwhile, the irony in China’s labelling of the Dalai Lama as a terrorist while protecting Masood Azhar has become a popular joke in India.

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