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NEW DELHI: After China put up a virtually permanent roadblock for proscribing Masood Azhar by the UNSC, India and US are mulling options for their next steps.
In December, Indian and US officials will meet for the first time for a dialogue on coordinating terrorist designations by both countries. The two sides will discuss options of keeping terrorists and terror groups like Jaish-e-Muhammad under pressure.
This will include discussions on the next terrorist that will be put up for sanctions by the UNSC’s 1267 committee.
The new consultation mechanism was decided during the Modi-Trump summit this summer. In the joint statement that followed the summit, both sides, “committed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including al-Qaida, ISIS, JeM, Lashkar-e-Taiba, D-Company, and their affiliates. … the leaders welcomed a new consultation mechanism on domestic and international terrorist designations listing proposals.”
For instance, Abdul Rauf Asghar, Masood Azhar’s brother, may find his name on the next list for sanctions. He was charged in the Pathankot terror attack. Azhar’s second brother, Maulana Ibrahim Athar Alvi is accused of masterminding the UC-814 hijack which forced India to release Azhar from jail in return for the passengers of the jet.
India has a list of other terror leaders operating with the support of Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment, who India wants to put up on the 1267 committee.
India wants China to continue to shield Pakistan at the multilateral level — if Beijing blocks sanctions against deadly terrorists repeatedly, it could succeed in painting itself as a supporter of global terrorism. Chinese officials reportedly expressed confidence that they would not be pressured on Azhar by the US given the US needed their support on keeping an increasingly hostile North Korea in check. China’s decision came even as Beijing itself demanded extra security from Pakistan for its new envoy from ETIM terrorists — many of them trained in Pakistan.
The joint statement added that India and United States would work together to “prevent terrorist travel and to disrupt global recruitment efforts by expanding intelligence-sharing and operational-level counterterrorism cooperation.”
As part of the travel vetting programmesin both countries, India and US had also decided to exchange information on “known and suspected terrorists for travel screening.” The likes of David Headley, who conducted numerous reconnaissance trips to India to prepare for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, could appear on the Indian security radar.