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  • China put a technical “hold” on sanctions against Azhar on March 31 this year
  • On the other hand, China could convert the “hold” into a “block” which would indicate its intention of supporting Pakistan
  • Delhi is planning PR campaign linking Beijing to global terrorism
By this weekend, China will have to make up its mind on the fate of terror leader Maulana Masood Azhar when its "technical hold" on a ban against the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief expires in the UN Security Council. In anticipation, India too has readied its own subsequent actions.

China put a technical "hold" on sanctions against Azhar on March 31 this year, blocking India's move to put a ban on the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader and Pathankot terror attack mastermind under the 1267 sanctions committee. China was the only member in the 15-nation UN body to put a hold. Azhar's name on the list would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.

China has two options. It could let the "hold" lapse, in other words, do nothing. The ban would then automatically apply to Masood Azhar as the sanctions under UNSC resolution 1267 would kick in. Of course, China's official reason for the technical hold is that it "will allow more time for the committee to deliberate on the matter and for relevant parties (read India and Pakistan) to have further consultations".

India has rejected the idea. On the other hand, China could convert the "hold" into a "block". That is a more formal status to stop Masood Azhar from coming under sanctions. It would indicate China's intention to support Pakistan at all costs, including its terrorist leaders and therefore China's diplomatic support to global terrorism. It would be a tough step for India-China ties.

After the meeting of NSA Ajit Doval and China's state councillor, Yang Jiechi on November 5, China indicated clearly there would be no change in its approach to Masood Azhar. But MEA said, both sides agreed "forthcoming high level engagement in counter-terrorism field is yet another manifestation of growing convergence of views of two countries on this pressing challenge facing international community".

India, said sources, has lined up other actions post China's decision. If China blocks sanctions, as many believe it will, India will put several other terror leaders up for sanctions. These would include Masood Azhar's brother, Abdul Rauf Asghar, as well as some other leaders from LeT and JeM. India recently bolstered its case against Azhar after NIA named Azhar as the prime accused in the Pathankot attack. This means, China would have to keep blocking terrorists from sanctions and all of them would have a Pakistan imprint.

It would be terrible for China's image. Only recently, China had said, "There should be no double standards on counter-terrorism. Nor should one pursue own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism." But China will be doing just that, particularly if India adds more names for consideration to the committee. India, said high level sources, will then mount a PR campaign connecting China with supporting global terrorism.

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