Through you, with utmost sincerity I would like to request this august assembly to stop seeing this evil with self-defeating and indeed meaningless nuance. Evil is evil. Let us accept that terrorism is an existentialist danger to humankind. There is absolutely no justification for this barbaric violence. Let us display our new commitment by reaching agreement on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism this year itself”
– Sushma Swaraj, while addressing the 72nd session of United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2017
T he legal and strategic fight that started in 2009, immediately after the Mumbai attack, to label Pakistan operated Jaish-e-mohammad chief Masood Azhar has finally reached a logical conclusion. Bharat had intensified the efforts after Pathankot attack in January 2016 and France, UK & the US moved the proposal to designate Pakistan-based Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UNSC. Thrice the proposal came for discussion, but China playing its own game on behest of Pakistan, blocked the move by India and other member nations three times in the past to designate Azhar as global terrorist on the technical ground & insisted for the solution acceptable to all’.
The diplomatic parleys were intensified post-Pulwama attack and the Balakot airstrikes by Bharatiya Air Force. Finally, China lifted the technical hold and on May 1, 2019 UNSC sanctions committee designated the Maulana who is also the face of Pak-sponsored terrorism as a global terrorist. The 15-member committee, which operates through a behind the curtains dialogue and consensus building mechanism, agreed to subject Azhar to an arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze. This is certainly a diplomatic victory for Bharat and another feather in the cap of Modi-led NDA government. What are the other implications of this diplomatic coup needs to be explored.
At the national level, we cannot forget the fact that Azhar was arrested for terrorist activities in the Kashmir valley in 1990s itself. In December 1999, along with Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Omar Sheikh, in exchange for the release of the passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814. Since then, the Maulana along with other face of Islamic terror and founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba Hafeez Saeed, has been involved in terror activities against Bharat, especially in the state of J&K. Though both JeM & LeT have tendency to make a quick changeover and operate through other means, like any other outfit, this physical and financial restrictions will enable Bharat to deal with the domestic miscreants effectively.
At regional level, China has accepted the presence of terrorists on the Pakistan soil for the first time. This is also a formal recognition to the fact that Pakistan based terror outfits are part of the same Al-Qaeda network and therefore, liable to the same sanctions under the UN resolution 1267 on sanctions committee. Pakistan is under terrible financial crisis and on the verge of being blacklisted by a global financial body, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which monitors money laundering and terrorism financing. China is also facing the threat to its investments not just in illegally occupied territory of Bharat but also in Pakistan by radicalisation and terrorism in Pakistan. China removing the technical cover meant to shielding Pakistan’s terror promotion policy and subsequent international binding for implementation of sanctions can change the regional equations forever. Considering the track record of Pakistan, one can only be cautiously optimistic about it.
This consensus of sort over blacklisting Maulana Masood has provided a unique opportunity for the international community by ‘reaching agreement on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism’, as suggested by Bharat again and again. Not giving scope to any country to nurture Frankenstein like Maulana Masoods and Hafeez Saeeds and later give sermons on good terrorist and bad terrorist is the best way to deal with the menace of terrorism. Looking beyond the individual case of Masood, what we need is to explore the ways to target all systemic possibilities that create devils like Masood Azhar.