Azhar’s blacklisting symbolic victory for India: Experts

Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar

New Delhi,  Blacklisting of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar is an important symbolic victory for India in relation to terrorism emanating from Pakistan, experts have said and noted that New Delhi should remain steadfast to ensure that the perpetrators of the Pulwama and Mumbai terror acts are brought to justice.

Former Foreign Secretary Shashank said that the designation of Azhar as a global terrorist is a very big achievement because the issue has been pending for a long time due to China putting a hold on his listing which it finally withdrew.

“While there might be some kind of consultation with Pakistanis, much more important is that the whole situation in the region and the world has changed so much that Pakistan is under pressure to show credible action against terrorism. This must have been conveyed to them by the Chinese,” Shashank told IANS.

He said China was getting lonely protecting Masood Azhar and the Pakistanis in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

“It is a major change that has occurred. Pakistan will also be obliged to increase its pressure and India has been able to mobilize support from a large number of countries. That itself is a great achievement. India has consistently pursued it and has been able to move forward on it.”

Shashank said India may be obligated to show improved relations with China following a change in Beijing’s stance. “May be give slightly more positive reaction to Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) except those areas where it is question of India’s sovereign rights”.

According to him, the UNSC procedure is such that informal consultations continue between members and consultations have been going on. “Pakistan has come under pressure. The FATF (Financial Action Task Force) will hold its meeting. Pakistan can also come on the blacklist,” he said.

Defence expert Commodore C. Uday Bhaskar said that it appears that China reviewed its position and this was perhaps enabled during Foreign Secretary Vijay K. Gokhale’s visit to Beijing after the Sri Lanka suicide bombings.

“My conjecture is that China may have arrived at a quiet quid pro quo with both India and Pakistan. When (Pakistan Prime Minister) Imran Khan had gone to Beijing for the BRI summit, you could see Chinese President Xi Jinping had made some statements to this effect,” he said.

“My sense is that China has reviewed its position particularly after the Sri Lanka terror attacks and may be the contour of the Beijing-Delhi give and take will be known after the May 23 election results,” Bhaskar added.

Bhaskar, who is Director, Society for Policy Studies, said that while this move would dent the image of Pakistan to an extent, it will not make the substantive difference that India is seeking – an end to support to terror in accordance with the Vajpayee-Musharraf agreement of 2004.

“This is an important symbolic victory for India in relation to terrorism emanating from Pakistan. However, India should remain steadfast in ensuring that the perpetrators of Pulwama and Mumbai 26/11 attacks who are both currently in Pakistan – Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar – are brought to book and justice is done.”

Answering a query, he said the blacklisting of Azhar will not make a major difference to Pakistan.

“I don’t think it is going to make much of a difference for Pakistan whether it has a total of 10 on the UN list or 11. Recall that Hafiz Saeed has been thriving in Pakistan after the 26/11 (terror attack). Pakistan has sheltered people who are accused of Daniel Pearl’s murder. So it has not made much of a difference to Pakistan or its benefactors such as China. Their aid and money is still flowing in.”

Bhaskar added that Pakistan remains both the cradle and a safe haven where terrorists are given shelter. “So I would not call the listing of Azhar as a major setback for Pakistan.”

Rakesh Sood, a former Ambassador to Nepal and Afghanistan, said the designation of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist was a symbolic gesture and it was important. “We have been trying for it for a long time.”

However, Sood said that such blacklisting did not have much impact on the activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed. “That does not have hampered his ability to either continue with his fundraising and nefarious activities.”

The UN Security Council on Wednesday declared Azhar as a global terrorist. His outfit had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack in February in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. India had subsequently launched aerial strikes on a terror camp at Balakot in Pakistan.