Even after the 1962 border conflict with China, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru never stopped his campaign for Beijing to replace Taipei as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. In an age when certain leaders of the past have been declared as national icons and therefore removed from any comment less than laudatory on their record, it may be risky to point out that Nehru was responsible for several decisions that adversely affected the national interests of India. Of course, this was of no concern to the Old Harrovian, who, from the start, placed “global” interest (as defined by Harold Laski and other similar UK academics) above India’s own. Two days ago, another bitter fruit of Nehru’s policy of rejecting—during the 1950s—the replacement of China by India as a UNSC Permanent Member has become obvious: that of China blocking the designation of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. Perhaps the killings of dozens of innocents in Kashmir and the brutal attack on the Parliament of India do not, in the view of the Chinese Communist Party, constitute acts of terrorism. Or perhaps China, like its all-weather ally Pakistan, divides terrorists into “good” and “bad”, with those responsible for deadly actions against India being “good” terrorists worthy of protection. By its blocking a resolution that has the support of every civilised nation within the UN system, China has committed a hostile act against India, and needs to be shown that this country will neither forgive nor forget those who prevent justice being done to terrorists who have made India a target.
Such behaviour by the Chinese side indicates the subservience that Beijing shows towards the Pakistan military, an institution that has made jihad its motto and refuses to change such an outlook even in the present. The decision to help a global terrorist escape was almost certainly taken at a level lower than that of President Xi Jinping, and can, therefore, be reversed by him. Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to speak to his old friend in Beijing of the negative consequences for the global war on terror of the thoughtless action taken by officials who follow the dictates of the Pakistan army even where these go against China’s own interest. There is no question that this is no small matter, but a “make or break” issue for future cooperation between India and China in matters of terrorism. Thus far, unlike Pakistan, which has trained, sheltered and arranged funding through dubious entities for Uyghurs active against the Chinese state in Xinjiang, India has always cooperated with China, including by repatriating back to China those Uyghurs regarded by their home government as being involved in acts of terrorism. It was expected that such cooperation would generate a matching response from Beijing, but thus far, this has not been the case. China has chosen to follow the orders of Pakistan and give international immunity to a known terrorist, the JeM chief, just as it has protected the LeT supremo in similar fashion. The Chinese envoy to India needs to be summoned and made aware of the fact that cooperation in fighting terrorism is a two-way street, and that unless China helps India against terrorists attacking this country, to expect India to continue a one-sided policy of cooperation may be unrealistic. Hopefully, Prime Minister Modi will be able to convince President Xi to remove this road block in the way of closer Sino-Indian ties.