Pakistan has caught itself in a bind. The same day the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, called implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) his government’s foremost priority and formed expert working groups to ensure its coordinated implementation, the Chinese found themselves convincing the United States not to bypass standard United Nations procedures to try and blacklist Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.
China says there is not enough consensus, but the unfortunate reality is that the Chinese calling for “more time for a comprehensive and thorough assessment” is only delaying the inevitable. The previous resolution was backed by almost the entire UN Security Council, including the rotational members. The consensus is almost unanimous.
The United States — with explicit support from France and Britain — will eventually bring the resolution to the table, and will either force China to vote along, abstain or veto. That would not look good on China and would essentially illustrate the weakness of the argument that the leader of a group on the UN terror list need not be blacklisted as a terrorist.
Prime Minister Imran, meanwhile, is committed to implementing NAP. As he chaired the maiden session of the National Internal Security Committee — a new structure for deliberations on security matters — he told the participants that implementation of NAP “is the foremost priority of the incumbent government as it is reflective of the will of the nation and is a consensus document agreed upon by all political parties of the country”. He gave out an assurance that the government was committed to removing all impediments towards implementation of the plan in letter and spirit.
The Prime Minister sounds serious about looking inward — something that would be highly prudent in view of the ongoing FATF review and the UNSC vote on the JeM chief. The action, however, needs to come sooner rather than later because the patience of China — however great a friend — will have its limits and it is best not to test a friend that has always stood by us in the hardest of times that we have faced.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2019.
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