Even in Pakistan, JeM and Masood Azhar have been treated as threats to the country at various times. President Pervez Musharraf had in fact forced the group to lie low after it was discovered that it was involved in the conspiracy to assassinate him. Last year, Musharraf, in an interview to a Pakistanti television channel had called Azhar a terrorist….writes Rifan Ahmed Khan
The Chinese decision to block the US resolution at the United Nations to declare Pakistani terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)’s leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist has made one thing quite clear: China is following the Pakistani path of using terrorists as state instruments of policy. This seriously undermines China’s frantic projections, over the decades, as an international power and at the same time makes the world wary of Chinese intentions and actions.
This is the second time China has blocked such a proposal against Azhar, a terrorist who has survived due to the patronage of Pakistan Army and the state as well. India had made a similar proposal in March this year which was blocked by China.
The second Chinese block comes months after it signed a BRICS declaration in September this year naming JeM as a terrorist group and promising to fight terrorism along with other members of BRICS. China had earlier blocked two similar proposals against Masood.
The Chinese objections are facetious. It justifies its action on the premise that there is no consensus among the members of the UN Security Council for such types of action against the terrorist group operating out of Pakistan. The justification is false and misleading. Barring China, there is a general consensus for taking action against terrorist groups which pose a threat to the world; JeM is certainly such a group.
Even in Pakistan, JeM and Masood Azhar have been treated as threats to the country at various times. President Pervez Musharraf had in fact forced the group to lie low after it was discovered that it was involved in the conspiracy to assassinate him. Last year, Musharraf, in an interview to a Pakistanti television channel had called Azhar a terrorist. He had even ordered the detention of the terrorist but did not press on charging him for terrorist cases which resulted in the release of Azhar. Last February, Sartaz Aziz, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s foreign affairs advisor, had declared that Azhar was under `protective custody` after the Pathankot attack. In fact, he said “one of the mobile phone numbers linked to the attackers was traced to the terror group’s headquarters in Pakistan’s Bahawalpur and called the lodging of the FIR in connection with the Pathankot assault as a “logical and positive step” in bringing the perpetrators to justice.“
Expectedly, Sartaz Aziz was merely parroting the line given by his masters in Rawalpindi and the FIR filed by the Special Investigating Team in Pakistan did not name either JeM or Azhar.
For Pakistan Army, Azhar and JeM are as important a tool as Hafiz and LeT Saeed. They are both needed to keep the fires of terrorism burning in Kashmir. Any action against these two groups, also the Taliban and Haqqani Network, could amount to spiting the Generals. The most reliable partner in Pakistan for China is Pakistan Army and hence there is no question of it taking a positon against an important instrument of strategic interest. China has all along, despite all the talks of reconciliation and trade, used Pakistan Army to needle and threaten India.
The Chinese action to block the UN resolution stems from this perverse logic of diplomacy, if one can call it such. But it is time China realises the grave ramifications such myopic policy will have on its own interest in the near and long terms. Three of these ramifications need to be reiterated because these can prove detrimental to China and the region itself.
First and foremost is how this decision seriously negates China’s stated commitment to root out terrorism not only from its own shores but from other parts of the world as well. China is well aware, if not it should be, that terrorism cannot be dealt with two forked policies. Recent history of American adventure with `mujahideen` and Pakistan’s alliance with jihadi outfits are enough to red-flag such policies. China should know that supporting one terrorist group while trying to tackle another does not work. What is happening in Pakistan is a befitting case study of such a duplicitous policy. Pursuing such a policy, as it is doing by supporting JeM, will prove to be counterproductive and increase threats to China, both within and outside.
Second, is how China is seen to be protecting and supporting a state which sponsors and actively patronises terrorist groups. This has a significant adverse impact on China’s own image of a responsible nation and how other nations view China. Both of which should be of significance importance to a country which claims to become a super power. Pakistan is a pariah country and has a long history of hoodwinking friends and reneging on promises. In fact, it is a country which has often worked against the interests of its `friends“. The case of US is a moot point. Pakistan, despite being protected by successive US administrations over the decades, have done immense harm to US interests. Pakistan’s support of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan has inflicted heavy damage on US troops and interests. By siding with Pakistan, China is not only encouraging patronisation of terrorist groups but also terrorism itself.
Third point is how these policies are bound to create a security nightmare for China, both within as well as elsewhere where it has abiding strategic and commercial interests. For instance, the overambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor which is passing through a large swathe of `jihadi` country where groups like JeM and LeT have immense clout and power. Now, if Chinese thinking is that these groups could help in keeping the economic corridor `safe` from other militant and terrorist groups, as Pakistan Army does, it could prove to be a disaster. Terrorists are friend to none but only their own ideology and power.
When China blocks international actions against terrorists like Azhar, it should keep in mind, it was placing itself in the line of an eventual, inevitable blowback.