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5 May, 2019 11:16:41 AM

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Win-win situation for India

The UN decision to declare Masood Azhar, a global terrorist, is a big win for India: a point that Modi is successfully using to the BJP’s advantage in the ongoing elections in India
KUMKUM CHADHA
Win-win situation for India

"It is a matter of satisfaction that a consensus has developed in the world on designating Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. Der aye,durust aye(Better late than never), thundered India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an election rally here.
"It is a big success for India's efforts since long to root out terrorism," he said adding that India's voice is being heard globally and its views can no longer be ignored: “This has been proved today”, Modi said with unmistakable pride.
"I want to say it loud and clear that this is just the beginning.

Wait for what happens next," India’s Prime Minister said while expressing gratitude  to the world community for standing withIndia  in its fight against terrorism.
The UN decision to declare Masood Azhar,  a global terrorist, is a big win for India: a point that Modi is successfully using to the BJP’s advantage in the ongoing elections in India. He has made it a point to drill into the minds of the electorate that the development is clearly India's diplomatic victory.
On this count, Modi is bang-on. It certainly is a win-win situation that has made every Indian aware of India’s coming of age on the international forum. More importantly it signals the comprehensive foreign policy that Modi and his government is pursuing: quite contrary to the past when signing trade agreements was the norm. During Modi’s regime, backdoor channels have been active in India’s fight against terrorism as they have been in bringing back fugitives and using pressure on countries for their extradition of business tycoons who have fled the country.

The United Nations listing  Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as an international terrorist, achieved with China’s support, is but another step and a shot in the arm for Modi.

Masood Azhar, a Pakistani national, was active in the Kashmir insurgency during the 1990s. He was arrested by the Indian security forces in 1994 but released in 1999 after Indian Airlines flight IC 814 from Kathmandu, Nepal, was hijacked. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government transported Azhar to Afghanistan, then ruled by the Taliban, in exchange for the passengers being freed.

Once back in Pakistan, Azhar founded the Jaish.

The Jaish-e-Mohammad announced its arrival in the Kashmir Valley with a suicide bombing in April 2000 when Afaq Ahmed Shah, son of a school teacher had driven a Maruti car laden with explosives into the gates of the Badami Bagh Army cantonment on the city’s outskirts.

Jaish has been behind many attacks including the one on India’s Parliament in 2001. India has also blamed the group for the 2008 Mumbai attack,   the 2016 attacks on an Air Force base in Pathankot and an Army camp in Uri, Kashmir.

More recently, a Jaish suicide bomber blew up a paramilitary convoy in Pulwama, Kashmir, killing over 40 personnel.

Azhar, born in Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province, has been referred to as India’s Osama Bin Laden, his primary aims beingto destabilise the Indian state in Kashmir. It is believed that Jaish set up its first camp in Balakot, where India recently conducted the much publicized surgical strikes..

India has been putting pressure on the UN to designate Azhar a terrorist following the Mumbai attack. But China, acting on behalf of Pakistan, used its veto in the UN Security Council to block the move.

After the Pulwama attack, however, both Pakistan and China came under sustained international pressure to rein in Azhar and his group. The United States, the United Kingdom and France supported India’s bid to designate Azhar a terrorist, leading to China backing off. Intense international pressure led to China’s reversing its strong stance because it was aware  that were the issue put to vote, it could mean a public embarrassment for it. That apart, analysts also point to the 2018 Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping that did two things: arrest India’s  drift towards the US by China and for India to secure Chinese cooperation.  Even while this could be in the realm of speculation, India has managed to get China over to its side at least on Azhar . Symbolically, it means recognition of India’s might and its ability to make world leaders not merely listen but also side with it on crucial issues.

Even though China wanted to delay terror designation of Maulana Masood Azhar until after May 15 citing the Lok Sabha elections in India it was forced to advance the date after the United States refused to budge beyond April 30. An understanding was finally brokered and China settled for May 1 to lift the hold given that China did not want the matter to come up for a vote in the UNSC.

The designation follows an assets freeze ,an arms embargo and a travel ban on Azhar. Simply put this translates to all member states of the United National  to freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets of Azhar;   to prevent his entry into or transit through their territories and  to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, spare parts, and technical advice, assistance, or training related to military activities.

Consequently, Pakistan has issued a notification stating that the UN resolution would be “fully implemented" against Masood Azhar. If implemented in letter and spirit, it would effectively mean total immobilisation of Azhar and shutdown of his organisation and its institutions such as terror camps and madrasas.

As for India, the move while being a step in the right direction also has political implications in the context of the ongoing elections. For starters it has given what is being described as  “more firepower” to the ruling dispensation. The  Bharatiya Janata Party, it is well known, is fighting this election mainly on the plank of national security and the Azhar issue has come handy. The timing could not have been better because the saffron party will hammer the emotive issue of national security in the hope  that Opposition shifting focus on economic issues and agrarian crisis would come a cropper.

Quick to comprehend the positives, the Opposition lost no time in decrying the BJP.

The Congress hit out at the government for singularly claiming credit for the designation of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN and said that  just one government should not take credit for a process that was started long before the BJP came to power. It was in 2009 that India first moved a proposal to designate Azhar a global terrorist: “Stop taking credit and applauding yourself” the Congress said.
It has also asked the government to give a reply to Pakistan's claim that Kashmir and Pulwama were de-linked in the JeM chief's listing. Citing this as Pakistan’s mischief, the Congress called it a serious matter. There is disappointment in some quarters over the final listing wherein there is no mention of Azhar’s role in any of the attacks against India, including Pulwama.Yet it is a battle that the BJP can claim to have won despite pitfalls and resistance. And it is one that despite political differences and the surcharged electoral atmosphere should not be discredited by the Opposition which would stand tall if it is seen as standing with the BJP on the national issue of security and ending terrorism.

The writer is a senior Indian journalist, political commentator and columnist of The Independent. She can be reached at: (kumkum91@gmail.com) 

SHK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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