The Blacklisting of Masood Azhar and its Impact on Relations in Asia
By: Maria Cano
“Indian Muslims hold a scratched photo of Jaish-e-Mohammad group chief, Masood Azhar, who was added to a UN sanctions list on Wednesday” (Gupta 2019)
On May 1, 2019, the United Nations Security Council placed Masood Azhar on its sanctions list for his leadership of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based terrorist organization linked with Al-Qaeda (Munir and Sharma 2019). The group had claimed responsibility for the February attack that killed 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir and brought the two nations to the brink of war (Munir and Sharma 2019). After the attack, India intensified its efforts to have Azhar blacklisted, but the Security Council’s resolution was delayed by China, a close ally of Pakistan (Munir and Sharma 2019).
Language in the proposal linking the decision to Azhar’s activities in Kashmir — specifically the February attack — was criticized by Pakistan as “politically motivated” (Zheng 2019, Shah 2019). According to the Pakistani government, Azhar had no connection with the Pulwama incident and the freedom movement in Kashmir “is an indigenous freedom struggle resisting Indian occupation” (Shah 2019). Pakistan asserted that it “would continue with its ‘moral, political and diplomatic’ support to the oppressed people of Kashmir” (Shah 2019). China agreed to support the UNSC resolution once the wording was revised and the mention of Kashmir was deleted (Zheng 2019).
This move is expected to improve relations between India and China. Former Chinese diplomat Zhang Jiadong described the move as “diplomatic concession from China for India, a signal of diplomatic support,” though he acknowledged that it was also a response to pressure from the international community (Zheng 2019). Meanwhile, China’s relationship with Pakistan is not expected to be negatively impacted, since Pakistan’s main objection was the inclusion of Kashmir (Shah 2019). Both India and Pakistan saw the resolution as a diplomatic win. For India, the decision was the culmination of a decade of lobbying. Meanwhile Fawad Hussain Chauhdry, Pakistan’s minister for science and technology, called the omission of Kashmir “a huge victory” and a “paradigm shift” (Zheng 2019). The U.S. was also pleased with the outcome; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared the UN resolution a “victory for American diplomacy and the international community against terrorism” and “an important step towards peace in South Asia” (Gupta 2019).
Ahmed, Munir and Ashok Sharma. “UN adds leader of outlawed Pakistan group to sanctions list.” Associated Press. May 2, 2019. https://www.apnews.com/a7cf9ad0a6004ef4b689af6ce0762757.
Gupta, Swati. “Modi claims political win after UN lists Masood Azhar as a terrorist.” CNN. May 2, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/02/india/masood-azhar-un-sanctions- intl/index.html.
Shah, Zargon. “UN to declare Masood Azhar a ‘global terrorist.’” The News International. May 1, 2019. todayhttps://www.thenews.com.pk/print/465278-un-to-declare-masood- azhar-a-global-terrorist-today.
Zheng, Sarah. “Why China Dropped its Opposition to UN Blacklisting of Pakistan-based Terror Chief Masood Azhar.” South China Morning Post. May 2, 2019. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3008614/why-china-dropped-its- opposition-un-blacklisting-pakistan.