Masood Azhar, United Nations and The Great Wall of China

Masood Azhar. The name that has been on the lips of everyone in our country since the horrifying Pulwama attack. The man who led his terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), not for the first time, to conduct a terror attack on Indian soil. The JeM even claimed responsibility for the dastardly act, in a vein of pride almost. This comes after two of the worst terror strikes this country has seen, Pathankot in 2016 and the Parliament in 2001, both allegedly executed by the JeM. To most of us, it seems like simple logic that the founder and leader of a banned terror outfit would be classified as a UN global terrorist. So why has this process been drawn out and why it is important to label this man as a global terrorist? Let’s take a look at it.

President Xi Jinping (left) and JeM Chief Masood Azhar (right)

What’s in a Name?

Before we dive into the details of the UNSC decision on Masood Azhar, let’s understand what being designated as a ‘Global Terrorist’ by the UN entails.

The sanctions will result in three major implications on the JeM leader, which are listed below:

  • Asset Freeze: An immediate hold on all assets of the designated person is actioned in every member state.
  • Travel Ban: The designated individual is not given entry into or passage through any member state.
  • Arms Embargo: The member countries actively prevent any form of supply or transfer of any and all arms, technical materials and training associated with military activities.

With these restrictions tying down the hands of Masood Azhar, his entire operating, recruiting and training process will be severely hampered. Also, this will force Pakistan’s hand, as they will not be able to harbor a designated global terrorist any longer.

The UNSC Proposal

The United Nations Security Council had blacklisted the Jaish in 2001 for aiding and abetting Al Qaeda. The group, however, still operates from the shadows as Pakistan do not seem to take the necessary action to prevent it from functioning. As far as their leader is concerned, every effort to certify Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in the UN has been blocked by China.

The latest of these efforts was a joint proposal submitted by three permanent members, the US, the UK and France. Russia, another permanent member and an ally of India, would be expected to provide its support in the matter during the vote. However, China, as they’ve done on three prior occasions, placed a hold on the matter. The vote relies on a consensus, therefore the objection raised by China sees the proposal blocked. While the meeting occurs behind closed doors and only the participating members can know who objected to the motion, the not-so-cryptic responses issued by India each time seem to clear any doubt.

UK PM Theresa May, US President Donald Trump and France President Emmanuel Macron
(left to right)

This objection was particularly disheartening, coming after the Pulwama attack and China perhaps tempted to let the motion pass given the international attention drawn to this topic. Yet, once again, Pakistan’s ‘All Weather Friend’ is firmly in their corner.

The Reactions

The Ministry of External Affairs stated in press release that this outcome was disappointing as it prevents action from the international community against the JeM leader. The MEA also thanked the members who voted favor and hinted that there were actions willing to be taken as “all possible avenues” will be pursued.

China, meanwhile, cited that it was quite simply trying to uphold a “responsible attitude” and wanted more time to study the situation and take a measured decision.

The United States, who jointly submitted this proposal along with the UK and France, claimed that China’s efforts to stall the motion would not align with their “mutual interest in achieving regional stability and peace”.

President Xi Jinping (left) and JeM Chief Masood Azhar (right)

Now coming to the perspectives within the country, Rahul Gandhi, who could not resist taking a shot at the ruling party, sent out a fairly transparent tweet aimed at the Prime Minister. He calls out Narendra Modi for being weak, as opposed to his portrayed image as a powerhouse.

Unsurprisingly, the technical hold placed by China has not gone down well with the Indian public. The outrage at China is in full swing, as the hashtag ‘#BoycottChineseProducts’ flares up on social media.

The Bottom line

So, for the fourth time in as many attempts, China walls India’s attempt to officially designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. It reaffirms its allegiance to Pakistan, as the notorious leader of a vicious terror group continues to have safe haven there. While there is seemingly no progress that can be made through the UNSC front, India has voiced that they may to have seek alternative measures to get justice. When it comes to what exactly these avenues or actions taken may be, your guess is as good as mine, but it helps sustain the hope that this man will pay for his acts. Whether it be through a surgical scalpel or a hammering bombardment, India has shown us in the recent past that they are not beyond using radical measures to counter terrorism. When the diplomatic approach has been stonewalled, maybe it is time to fight fire with fire.

Sources:, The Economic Times,,

Image Credits: News18, Global Village Space,, CatchNews

Leave a Reply