The United Nations Security Council’s decision to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist is a major diplomatic victory for India. After blocking the move on technical grounds on four occasions in the past using its veto power at the global body, China has finally lifted its hold on the proposal. Beijing’s change of heart can be attributed to the sustained international pressure, particularly from the United States, UK and France which had moved a fresh proposal in the Security Council’s 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee in February, just days after the Pulwama terror attack. Despite Pakistan being its all-weather friend, China has realised the folly of being seen as shielding a dreaded terrorist and going against the world opinion. The development has vindicated India’s position that the international community must come together for a joint fight against the menace of terrorism and that the days of playing the ‘good terrorist versus bad terrorist’ game is over. China had also realised that it was on a sticky wicket when the US, UK and France had threatened to press their resolution at the UNSC if it did not withdraw its technical objections. Such a course would have resulted in China’s isolation on the terrorism issue. Moreover, India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, during a visit to China last week, had provided fresh and incontrovertible evidence on the JeM’s role in terror attacks in India. The UN decision now means a freeze on Azhar’s finances and assets, a travel ban and an arms embargo.
Already, Pakistan has been put on the grey list by Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-terror financing and money laundering watchdog. It means that Islamabad has failed to combat terror funding and money laundering. The FATF has made it clear that terrorist groups like the JeM cannot function without access to funds. The writing on the wall is clear for the Imran Khan government. It must rein in the anti-India terror outfits operating from Pakistani soil or face the prospect of getting blacklisted on FATF which is similar to facing international sanctions with serious consequences. Despite promising to usher in ‘Naya Pakistan’, Imran has so far not demonstrated his resolve to close down terror factories. It is also time to hold ISI accountable for its role in spawning terrorism and nurturing anti-India terror outfits. New Delhi’s twin strategy of exercising the military option on one hand, specifically targeting terrorists, and a sustained diplomatic offensive on the other has yielded desired results. However, there is no reason to be complacent. The UN listing is only a symbolic move and it alone cannot stop the terrorist groups from operating freely in Pakistan and mounting attacks on Indian soil.