Sushma Swaraj raises Masood Azhar issue with Chinese counterpart
Moscow: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today strongly raised with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi the issue of China blocking its bid to have JeM chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN.
Swaraj took up the issue with Wang at a bilateral meeting here on the sidelines of the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral meeting of their Foreign Ministers. Official sources said the issue was raised by Swaraj besides deliberations on a range of issues.
Earlier this month, China stopped UN sanctions committee from designating Azhar as terrorist, maintaining that the case "did not meet the requirements" of the Security Council. This is not the first time China has blocked India's bid to get Pakistan-based militant groups and leaders proscribed by the UN.
The UN had banned the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in 2001 but India's efforts for slapping sanctions on Azhar after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks also did not fructify as China, that has veto powers, did not allow it apparently at the behest of Pakistan.
Last July, China had similarly halted India's move in the UN to take action against Pakistan for its release of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, saying its stand was "based on facts and in the spirit of objectiveness and fairness" with Beijing again claiming at the time that it was in touch with New Delhi.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar last week had said in New Delhi that India has taken up at a "fairly high level" with China the issue of Beijing blocking its bid to have Azhar designated as terrorist by the UN but the issue will not "overflow" into other areas of bilateral ties.
China had defended its decision, saying that it acts on such issues based on facts and rules in an "objective and just manner".
After the attack on the airbase in Pathankot on January 2, India had in February written to the UN calling for immediate action to list Azhar under the UN Sanctions Committee.
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 but just hours before the deadline, China requested the UN committee to keep on hold the designation.
Earlier this week, India had slammed the use of "hidden veto" and demanded accountability, saying the world body's general members are never informed of the reason for not acceding to requests for sanctioning terrorists.
"The procedures of unanimity and anonymity of the al-Qaeda, Taliban and ISIS Sanctions Committees need to be revisited. The procedures of unanimity and anonymity result in a lack of accountability," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin had told the UN Security Council in an open debate on 'Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts' on Thursday.
Swaraj also discussed a range of issues of mutual interest with Wang. In her opening remarks, Swaraj said the relations have seen significant improvement in the last one year and favoured frequent meetings between the two sides to step up engagement.
"We are meeting after a long gap and I think we should meet quite frequently. Because things are moving very fast in the world and if we meet frequently, we will be able to deliberate on those," she said.
The Chinese Foreign Minister said both the countries need to stay focused on expanding the ties and should align "our strategies" so as to contribute significantly to development of Asia and the world.
"China and India are two major countries and two big neighbours. It is important for us to maintain very close cooperation. We are two developing countries and emerging markets and we both face the challenging task of promoting economic development and realize national rejuvenation," he said.
He further said, "We are strategic partners and as the world's economic and political centre is shifting towards Asia-Pacific. It is all the more important for both the countries to join hands because our cooperation will have far reaching and positive implications to the region and the world at large."
"So we need to stay focus on growing our relationship, align our strategies and step up our partnership so that we can jointly contribute to Asia and world's development," Wang said.
Swaraj and Wang are here to attend the Russia, India, China (RIC) Foreign Ministers meeting. The External Affairs Minister arrived here from Tehran last night where she paid a two-day visit.