Mumbai attacks orchestrated by Pakistan remain fresh in every Indian’s memory. After the release of mastermind of the attack Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi in April, India had approached United Nations sanctions committee (per resolution 1267) over the release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a commander in Lashkar-e-Taiba, an anti-India terror group based in Pakistan , to question Pakistan on his release. But the China’s veto on technical grounds stalled India’s efforts. The technical ground being the Chinese assertion that India has not provided enough evidence to be considered in Pakistani courts. Modi has taken up this matter at the ‘highest levels’ with the Chinese leadership and has been pragmatic in the response so far.
Other than the Indian media’s reports which were understandably negative, the Indian leadership has avoided commenting on the matter except through the official channel, the ministry of external affairs.
The episode highlights the extent to which closer relations between India and China will be limited by Beijing’s interests in shielding Pakistan from international scrutiny.
What is UNSCR 1267?
UNSCR 1267 is a sanctions regime established by United Nations Security Council’s resolution 1267 on October 15, 1999. The committee takes its decisions by consensus in closed-door meetings. It has 15 members including the 5 permanent members and they can exercise a veto by placing a proposal on technical hold which delays the case for three months before it can come back to the committee. It is worth noting that all the other permanent members had supported India on the matter.
Not for the first time: China saved Pakistan earlier as well
China’s justification for blocking the Indian request—which sought clarification from Pakistan over Lakhvi’s release—was that India “failed to provide enough information.”. Although it was along the expected lines as China has, on many occasions in the past has stalled Indian proposals to question Pakistan. Modi has taken up this matter at the highest levels with the Chinese leadership.
China has in the past blocked India’s bids to get Jamaat-Ud-Dawa (the political arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan) added to the United Nations Security Council’s terror list three times (JuD was finally added to the sanctions list in December 2008). As leaked U.S. State Department cables revealed in 2010, China placed “technical holds” at Pakistan’s request to block UNSC sanctions against Lashkar-e-Taiba and the al-Akhtar Trust (a charity front for Jaish-e-Mohammad, designated as a terrorist support organization by the United States).
A similar “technical hold” was put in place in the case of India’s request to list Syed Salahuddin, a terrorist wanted in connection with numerous Hizbul Mujahideen attacks. Thus, China has a history of shielding Pakistan-based terror groups from sanctions under resolution 1267.
Modi’s Pragmatic Response
Just before Modi’s visit to China, an article appeared in state-owned Chinese newspaper asserting that Modi is a pragmatist and not a visionary as he is called by Indians. Well, indeed he is pragmatic as much as he is visionary. In his dealing with China Modi has shown acute pragmatism. Modi’s response on this Chinese veto on an issue that India is very sensitive to has been devoid of any jingoism and he has spoken in plain speech like he did when he exhorted the Chinese to reconsider their approach while he was in China.
In less than 24 hours, there was a strong though measured response from India with a clear hint that Prime Minister Modi had raised the issue personally with the top leadership of China
The matter has been addressed to “the Chinese leadership” directly from Modi, who emphasized the issue of Lakhvi’s release as an “emotive issue for Indians.” A spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement, outlined the Indian government’s response:
“The government had taken up the issue of violation of the 1267 sanctions regime in respect of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Our concerns in this matter were conveyed to the Chair of the 1267 Committee. We also raised this bilaterally with the other members of the Committee. In the case of China, this matter has been taken up at the highest level.” said a briefing of the ministry of external affairs.
When it comes to China, Modi has followed a pragmatic pursuit of national interest and plain speak seem to be the strategy.
Under Modi’s leadership, India will take a realistic account of the close strategic relationship between China and Pakistan but address it as effectively as possible. Pakistan, of course, has been an all-weather friend and it was expected that China would save Pakistan from this public embarrassment.
Modi understands very well that China is both a competitor and a partner in certain key areas. He knows that we will have to ‘manage’ this key relationship despite its unpleasant factors. What is noteworthy is the confidence and changed approach. His plain speech exhorting China to reconsider its approach in South Asia was well noted all over the world
From day one in office he has been very pragmatic when it comes to China, we do not need to fear China’s increasing influence in the world but rather manage it. When it comes to our neighborhood, China had taken advantage of India’s moribund foreign policy and forged close strategic ties with countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri From the day he took over, Modi has made it crystal clear that a dramatic improvement in relations with neighbors is his first priority. And his government has walked the talk on this. Beyond South Asia, Modi has launched a vigorous Look East policy that is closely engaging the ASEAN nations and Japan.