By Ruchika Thakur:
China recently blocked India’s move in the United Nations for seeking action against Pakistan for releasing 26/11 mastermind Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi and has put it on technical hold. The basis for this technical hold, according to China, was that India has not provided sufficient information in support of its case.
Lakhvi was released in April from Adiala prison after the Lahore High Court dismissed his detainment order. He is alleged to be the brain behind the planning and execution of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks. Though he was arrested right after the incident, the court proceeding dragged at a snail’s pace and even in the prison he continued to be the operations commander of the LeT. When he was recently released from the Rawalpindi jail, India’s permanent representative to the UN, Asoke Mukerji, wrote to the chairman of the 1267 committee seeking an investigation into Lakhvi’s release.
India contends that Pakistan’s release of Lakhvi in April violates UN Security Council resolution 1267 dealing with terrorist organisations and individuals. The 1267 committee, which has five permanent members, can exercise their veto by placing a proposal on technical hold, which delays the case for three months before it is again addressed by the committee.
This is not the first time that China has come to the rescue of Pakistan. Earlier, China had blocked India’s attempt to add Jamat-Ud- Dawa to the UNSCR 1267 terror list. Also, sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Masood Azhar were prevented by China. In 2010, it thwarted the UNSC from imposing sanctions on Hafiz Saeed and earlier this year, it stalled India’s attempts to put Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Chief Syed Salahuddin on the terror list.
As Vikram Sood, former Chief of R&AW, makes it clear when he writes that Lakhvi is of no importance to China, but the symbolism of their move makes it evident that it is irritated with India because of India’s stand in the South China Sea in support of the US.
Additionally, ties between Vietnam and India regarding oil block contracts in the South China Sea have also angered China. China claims that it has indisputable sovereignty over the oil-rich Spratly/Nansha Islands.
Pakistan provides a gateway for the Chinese to the Middle East, and the increasing ties are crucial for counterbalancing India’s rise in South Asia. China has invested $46 billion in Pakistan by way of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which will ensure the success of China’s trans-continental Belt and Road Initiative. Pakistan is a benefactor of China’s economic as well as military investment, and has acted as an intermediary for China in establishing its ties with the US. Thus, backing Pakistan on global platforms for China is a very small price considering so much is riding on Pakistan. But if India’s attempt had succeeded under the 1267 resolution, it would have marked as a major diplomatic victory over Pakistan. Many countries such as the US, France, Russia and Germany are supporting India on the issue, but it is clear that China has immense power to influence policies especially with regard to Pakistan.