Why is China blocking the terrorist designation of a Pakistani militant?
After the incident, India renewed demands that Pakistan crack down on home-grown terrorism and hand over JeM’s leader, Masood Azhar. The Islamist ideologue and the JeM are thought to be responsible for several terror attacks in India, including a 2001 attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi, and a 2016 strike on an air base in the northwestern city of Pathankot that killed 17 people and injured dozens.
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India has repeatedly called on the international community to designate Azhar as a terrorist. On February 27, France moved a proposal to designate Azhar as a terrorist and impose sanctions under the UN’s al Qaeda sanctions committee.
All permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) except one – China – endorsed the designation. For New Delhi, China’s resistance is further proof that Beijing is politically aligned with Islamabad.
But Beijing said there was not enough evidence against Azhar and that a “thorough investigation” was needed. As the UNSC considers what to do next, Azhar’s importance for Beijing has come under the spotlight.
China’s interest in Pakistan
Beijing repeatedly asserts that it is against terrorism, but justified its UNSC vote by saying there wasn’t enough evidence against Azhar while citing “procedural problems” with the UNSC.
According to Liu Xiaoxue, an India expert at the Asia-Pacific Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, lack of evidence is a common issue with attacks thought to be carried out by JeM.