Pakistan’s efforts, after the UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, to draw a moral equivalence with India on the issue of cross-border terrorism have been blocked by the US.
Top Indian government sources told Media that the US had formally informed all members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Friday that it was officially blocking, and thus terminating, a proposal to proscribe an Indian national by the UNSC 1267 sanctions committee.
Venu Madhav Dongara, an engineer with an Indian construction company active in Afghanistan, is 1 of the 4 Indian nationals Pakistan had linked with terror attacks on its territory. Pakistan was hoping to get Dongara listed as a global terrorist by the UNSC with support from China.
The US had in September last year put the proposal on a technical hold, expecting Pakistan to produce more evidence to prove its allegations against Dongara. With fresh evidence not forthcoming, but Pakistan still insisting on his listing by the Sanctions Committee, the US last week blocked the proposal, bringing it to an end formally.
If Pakistan still chooses to target Dongara, it will have to seek a new proposal.
Pakistan’s decision to target Dongara was seen by India, and also friendly countries like the US, as an effort to get its own back on the Indian government after the UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar last year. China had on 4 occasions earlier blocked the proposed ban on Azhar before finally falling in line with other UNSC member states in 2019.
According to Indian government sources, Islamabad had almost “on the bounce” prepared a “fictional” dossier on Dongara accusing him of financing terror attacks and linking him with groups like Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. This was followed with similar allegations against 3 other Indian nationals who were working with an Indian firm in Afghanistan. All of them have since returned to India.
“We never really expected Pakistan to come up with any serious evidence. In Azhar’s case, even China had to unblock the proposed ban because he hadn’t just masterminded terror attacks but was also heading an organisation (JeM) already proscribed by the UN,” said an Indian official.
Pakistan had for years claimed that there was no “solid evidence” against Azhar and used Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to back its allegations that India was aiding anti-Pakistan terror groups. After China allowed the ban to go through though, as Indian officials have said, Islamabad launched fresh efforts to prove that India also harboured terrorists.
“We do hope Pakistan will learn a lesson from this and not insist on a ban on other Indian nationals it has falsely linked with terrorism,” he added.
The US action has again underscored the significance of Indo-US cooperation on the issue of coss-border terrorism in all its forms. It is important to recall here that even the ban on Azhar last year by UN was made possible after the US gave an ultimatum to China that if the latter didn’t drop its opposition by a certain date (April 23), the same proposal would be directly introduced in UNSC, bypassing the 1267 committee.
In 2017, India and US had introduced a new consultation mechanism on domestic and international terrorist designations listing proposals.
PM Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump had after their summit this year also called on Pakistan to ensure that no territory under its control was used to launch terrorist attacks, and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks, including 26/11Mumbai and Pathankot.