The chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed has been declared an international terrorist by the UN Security Council.

 

On Wednesday, 1 May, the monstrous and murderous terrorist, Masood Azhar’s luck ran out. The chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed was declared an international terrorist by the UN Security Council’s 1267 Sanctions Committee. This terrorist of terrorists had vowed to destroy India, liberate Kashmir and kill as many Hindus as possible. Such a man lived and prospered in Pakistan for decades. The People’s Republic of China, till the other day refused to call Azhar a terrorist. It sided with its faithful ally. India’s repeated complaints to the UN were frustrated by China in the UN Security Council, time and time again. India did not give up or despaired. The relentless efforts and pressure on China and Pakistan by the US, UK, France and India worked. The US did gentle diplomatic arm twisting in Beijing. Pakistan had to give in. China could not afford to be seen as being soft on terrorism, thus face isolation. World opinion against terrorism could no longer be ignored by any member state of the UN, let alone the Security Council.

Masood Azhar cannot now hide or run away. He cannot (neither can Islamabad) flout UN sanctions. His assets are frozen and he will be unable to travel anywhere. In Pakistan too his movements will be restricted, so will be his verbal venom. An arms embargo has already been enforced on Jaish-e-Mohammed. He will be under security to prevent him from going underground.

So far so good. However, India cannot afford to lower its guard. Pakistan still has several terrorist organisations e.g., Jamat ud Dawa.

India’s astute, patient, “subterranean” diplomacy has paid handsome dividends.

How will Sino-Indian relations look in the coming months? What of the Wuhan spirit? It is not shining. Much depends on the outcome of our Lok Sabha elections. Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai was over in 1962. Both countries need good neighbourly, if not cordial relations. Nevertheless, we must be realistic. China, in a multiplicity of areas, is far ahead of India. Trade imbalance is all too obvious. Beijing’s international reach is global. Ours is not. Hence, wisdom demands peaceful co-existence. The Azhar episode proves that commonality on terrorism has now appeared on the Sino-Indian horizon. In diplomacy, even modest progress deserves respect.

A word about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. He obviously acted wisely in joining the members of the Sanctions Committee in declaring Azhar a global terrorist. I can’t recall any of his recent predecessors displaying such diplomatic skill and realistic tact. He might even prove wrong those who look at him as a show boy of the Pakistan army.

Question. Will the army give him a free hand to address Indo-Pak relations? Here I wish him luck. Having served in Pakistan, I can say that the Prime Minister will need both luck and success to carry the army with him. If he takes two steps, so will we. His harping on Kashmir will only block meaningful bilateral discussions.

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The first IFS officer to join politics was the late S. Shahabuddin. I was the second. Sahab, as he was called, stood first in his batch. Before he was to join the IFS, Home Ministry objected to his appointment. During his university days he had been active in the left wing college union. The Home Ministry’s recommendation was that Shahabuddin should not be taken in the Indian Foreign service. Inevitably, the matter came before Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The great man over-ruled the Home Minister.

I entered the political arena in 1984. I still had five years of service left. The third to resign was Mani Shankar Aiyar. He was large hearted enough to tell me that he had decided to follow my example. I was deeply touched.

 

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