Delhi stunned: UK & China stall move to blacklist Masood Azhar

Barely seven months after the Mumbai attacks, Indian efforts in the United Nations to place sanctions on Jaish-e-Mohammad founder Maulana Masood Azhar have received a major setback. In a surprise move, the United Kingdom has joined hands with China to block the Indian request to proscribe both Azhar and Azam Cheema, the Lashkar-e-Toiba operative accused in the Mumbai train blasts, under the UN's "Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions" resolution (1267).

India had wanted these two along with Abdul Rehman Makki, another LeT ideologue, to be included in the list just like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its head Hafiz Mohammed Saeed were added along with other LeT operatives after the Mumbai attacks. The banning under UN resolution 1267 means freezing of assets, travel ban and embargo on arms.

What has stunned India is the UK's position because the Jaish as an outfit is already banned by the UN and so it is only logical for Azhar to be put on that list. It's learnt that London has asked for "fresh evidence" and "more details" while placing the request on a procedural hold. China has taken a similar position.

China, it may be recalled, had also placed a similar hold on the banning of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its head Hafiz Saeed along with Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi last year even after the US placed the outfit and the individuals under its sanctions list. Beijing's argument was that it could not be conclusively proven that JuD was a front organisation of the

ashkar that had already been banned. But under immense US pressure after the Mumbai attacks, China removed the hold which led to banning of the outfit.

As a result of that action, Pakistan was forced to take action against Saeed, who was detained and the JuD offices were sealed. A case is now underway in Pakistan where Saeed is challenging his detention while the Pakistan government is saying that it is only following a UN decision.

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