The worst terror attack on Indian forces in Kashmir’s Pulwama could impact Sino-India ties as New Delhi and Beijing continue to differ sharply over listing Pakistan-based outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader Masood Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’ at the United Nations.
The group has claimed responsibility for the attack and China has repeatedly in the past blocked India’s efforts to list Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN Security Council. While condemning the attack, the Chinese foreign ministry gave enough indications on Friday that its stand remains the same.
Azhar’s listing has remained a major bilateral squabble between the two neighbours despite the bonhomie generated after the informal Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping last April; Home minister Rajnath Singh had highlighted it in China late last year.
It’s just that discussions to resolve the Azhar issue had been pushed to the background in the atmosphere of post-Doklam geniality between India and China. This week’s attack, however, could act as a headwind against that bilateral enthusiasm. Chinese academics have called for dialogue to resolve the issue and asked India to furnish more evidence against Azhar to China.
Bilateral ties, as well as broad ties in the region between India, China and Pakistan, could run into difficult times in the aftermath of the attack, said Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
‘It is difficult to say how China will respond when India brings up the issue next time at the UN. There should be a mutual dialogue between India and China to resolve this issue,” Hu added. Hu, an expert on south Asia, said it’s possible that Beijing directly talks to Islamabad about the attack and its impact.
Wang Dehua, south Asia expert at the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, agreed, saying that India and China’s different views over JeM and Azhar could only be solved through dialogue. Wang also argued that India needs to do more to change China’s stand.
“As early as 2009, India tried to place Azhar in the UN sanctions list. At that time, the United Kingdom, as a permanent member of the Security Council, also expressed its opposition and asked India to present more evidence. India launched a strong diplomatic offensive for this and finally changed the attitude of the UK, but China still has reservations on this issue,” Wang said.
Wang added that according to the United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Act, India only needs to submit evidence to the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee to prove that Azhar is a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban, or with both organisations.
“There is a link. But India is not submitting such evidence and it is useless to blame China for obstructing. That is to say, no matter what the nature of JeM is, there is no evidence that Azhar is subordinate to terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State. Therefore, the JeM is not subject to Resolution 1267, which specifically attacks the two organisations, and naturally cannot be included in the list,” Wang said.