Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar is wanted by India
- US, the UK and France stepped up pressure on Beijing
- India wants UN to ban Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar
- China has been blocking move to ban Masood Azhar
China said on Tuesday that on designating Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN, "positive progress" had been made. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also said the problem would be "properly resolved" but did not give any timeline. Sources say there could be a decision on this as early as tomorrow.
China put a technical hold in March on a fresh proposal to ban Masood Azhar, the head of the Pakistan-based Jaish, which claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack. It was the fourth time that China had blocked Masood Azhar's listing as a global terrorist by the UN.
"I can only say that I believe that this will be properly resolved," Geng Shuang told reporters, responding to media reports that China had consented to lift its technical hold on May 1 on a fresh proposal moved by France, the UK and the US to list Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.
Sources say the US, UK and France have been working hard to step up pressure on Beijing by taking the issue directly to the powerful UN Security Council. China insists that it should be resolved at the 1267 Committee whose proceedings are not publicized.
Though China can exercise its veto as a permanent member of the UNSC, Beijing has staunchly opposed taking the issue to the UN body as it has to publicly explain its stand on Masood Azhar.
"Regarding the listing issue in the 1267 Committee, we have expressed our position many times and I just want to stress two points," Geng said.
"First, we support the listing issue being settled within the 1267 committee through dialogue and consultation and I believe this is the consensus of most members. Second, the relevant consultations are going on within the committee and has achieved some progress. Third, I believe, with the joint efforts of all parties, this issue can be properly resolved," he said.
Last week, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale was in China and provided more evidence on the Jaish's role in terror attacks in India. If Masood Azhar is listed, it will put a freeze on his assets and travel, though such bans have proved ineffective against the Lashkar e Taiba's Hafiz Saeed.
Nevertheless, it will be a big diplomatic win for India, which has been pushing for Azhar's listing for years.