It does not behove of a responsible nation like China to be actively seen supporting a terrorist outfit and its leader, both of whom have been proscribed in several countries, including the country hosting them, Pakistan.
If there is a reason behind China’s adamant stand on this issue in the United Nations, it is myopic and dishonest and is contrary to what it has been professing otherwise. Only recently had China stated that “there should be no double standards on counter-terrorism. Nor should one pursue own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism.” That’s exactly what China is doing.
Whichever way one looks at it, the continuous decision by China to save Jaish leader Masood Azhar from sanctions by the UN projects it as a country supporting terrorism. This decision has besmirched the country’s image as a responsible nation and will prove to be counterproductive in the days ahead.
China would do well to remember that no one has benefited from supporting terrorism and terrorist groups. Terrorists are no friend of any country and follow their own twisted and violent agenda. The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) is a telling example of this treachery. Despite being created, supported and protected by Pakistan Army, the terrorist group carried out two botched assassination attempts on the then Pakistan Army chief, General Pervez Musharraf.
China must take a leaf out of its ally, Pakistan’s books in protecting terrorists. It is no longer a secret how Pakistan continues to support various types of terrorists and how it has suffered in the last decade. Pakistan today is as much a perpetrator of terrorism as its people are the victims of terrorist groups. The people of Pakistan are paying in blood and wasted lives for the evil deeds of their civilian and military leaders. The blowback has been long in coming but it has been inevitable and debilitating.
But even in Pakistan there are murmurs of protests. In December last year, a Supreme Court of Pakistan-appointed panel, investigating a terrorist attack in Quetta, categorically held the state guilty of cavorting with terrorist groups. It rebuked the Interior Minister of the Nawaz Sharif government of being complicit in letting terrorist groups operate with impunity. It was a stinging indictment and the Chinese leadership would do well to read the report minutely.
The Chinese leadership could protect their image and people by paying attention to what the Pakistani law makers have been saying on their decision to block the ban on Masood Azhar. Early this month, the Senate Committee on Human Rights in Pakistan Assembly sought to know why Pakistan was adamant on blocking attempts to impose sanctions on Masood Azhar. The lawmakers were gravely concerned about the impunity with which these groups were carrying out their nefarious activities.
Listen carefully to Senator Farhatullah Babar. The English daily, THE NATION (January 2, 2017), reporting on the proceedings of the committee, said that “taking up the issue of protection to some banned outfits, Senator Farhatullah Babar questioned the rationale behind protecting Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar from sanctions by the UN”. He said that the Chinese government would not have stepped in to protect the Jaish unless the government of Pakistan had so asked: “We need to know why an outfit that is banned in Pakistan as a militant organisation should be protected from sanctions by the UN,” said Babar, “This dichotomy and ambivalence raise serious questions about what we say and do,” he said.”
If the Chinese decision is moved by their over eagerness to protect their close friend Pakistan, and spite India in the process, then such a logic is regressive, unbecoming of a responsible nation and will prove to be counterproductive to its own national interest. China knows, and it has been making the `right` noises about terrorism, except when it came to Pakistan, that supporting terrorism does not pay in any way. Pakistan knows it too well. So does other countries which have been doing so.
China must not be allowed to hold at ransom the international commitment to sanction terrorist groups and leaders. The UN members have spent countless hours, at great expense, on how to rid the world of the scourge of terrorism. They cannot let one country, even if a bully, to subvert the interests of billions of people.