China blocks India's UN bid for ban on JeM chief Azhar

In a move that could have a significant bearing on bilateral relations, China has once again blocked India's bid at the United Nations for a global ban on Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, thought to be the mastermind of the Pathankot terror attack, while all other members of the UN Security Council, including the USA, the UK, and France have backed the action.

Out of the 15 council members, China has emerged as the only country to block India's bid at the UN to ban Azhar.

Just hours before the deadline on Thursday, China requested the UN Committee, which is considering a ban on the chief of the Pakistan-based terror outfit, to keep on hold the ban.

After the attack on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot on 2 January, India in February wrote to the UN calling for immediate action to list Azhar under the Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

The submission was armed with strong evidence of the JeM's terror activities and its role in the Pathankot attack that killed seven Indian military personnel.

India also told the UN Sanctions Committee that not listing Azhar would expose it and other countries in South Asia to threats from the terror group and its leader.

The Indian submission was considered by the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) for technical aspects of the evidence provided. The technical team then with the support of the US, the UK and France had sent it to all the members.

All were told that if there are no objections the designation will be announced after the expiry of the deadline.

"However, hours before the deadline, China requested the committee to hold up the banning of the JeM chief," reports said.

According to other government sources, the Chinese action was in "consultation" with Pakistan, which is not on the UN Committee.

The UN had banned JeM in 2001 but India s efforts to ban Azhar after the Mumbai terror attack also did not fructify as China, one of the five permanent members of the UN group with veto powers, didn't allow the ban apparently at the behest of Pakistan, with whom it has close ties.