Sat, Mar 16, 2019 - Page 8 News List

China needs to help label terrorist

By Manik Mehta

The recent airstrikes traded between India and Pakistan were triggered by a suicide bomb attack on Feb. 14 that killed 44 Indian security personnel in Pulwama in Indian Kashmir. The Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), who, according to Japanese and Indian media reports wanted to visit India this month — he might not be able to do so because of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s preoccupation with the Indian elections in May — would have faced considerable distrust and skepticism in India about China’s attitude toward terrorism.

Besides the three-month-long Doklam stand-off in the summer of 2017 between Indian and Chinese soldiers — which started when China began constructing a road into the Doklam plateau close to the tri-junction border between India, Bhutan and China — India is upset that China continues to shield Masood Azhar, who heads the JeM, at the UN.

Many international experts say that China, by shielding Azhar, is siding with terrorism.

China has blocked efforts by the remaining UN Security Council members to designate Azhar as an international terrorist.

The JeM has been involved in a number of terror attacks in India, including on the Indian Parliament, Pathankot Air Force Station, an army base in Uri and security forces in Pulwama, which nearly brought nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to war.

If Xi wants to have a long-term friendly relationship with India and also dispel any doubts that China does not support terrorism, he will have to start by not only defusing border tensions with India, but also stopping Pakistan from allowing terrorist activities against India to be launched from its soil.

Pakistan has done little to curb activities by JeM as well as another terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, headed by Hafeez Syed, who is already a UN-designated global terrorist whose capture is worth a US$10 million bounty from the US government.

China ought to remember that the world’s formerly most-wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, found sanctuary in Pakistan.

Attempts in the past by India and other permanent UN Security Council members such as France, the UK and the US, to get Azhar designated as a global terrorist were blocked by Chinese vetoes.

However, a determined France, having experienced the pain of terrorism on its own soil, is taking the lead to have Azhar designated as a global terrorist after China blocked an earlier attempt.

France and other council members hope that China will not block the move this time. After all, the 15 permanent and non-permanent members, including China, on Feb. 21 unanimously passed a resolution, condemning in the “strongest terms” the “heinous and cowardly” terror attack in Pulwama perpetrated by Pakistan-based JeM; the resolution’s language was widely seen as reflecting India’s handwriting.

China’s international image could be seriously dented if it appears to shield a known terrorist. After all, China has its own share of problems with Pakistan, where religious extremists have criticized the treatment of Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang Province.

While China uses terrorism in Xinjiang to justify its crackdown on the Uighur population, its behavior at the UN in regard to Azhar repudiates its professed aim to combat terrorism.

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