China Blocks India Against Pakistan Despite PM's Intervention, US Steps In For India-Pak 'Peace'
26/11 prime accused Lakhvi
NEW DELHI: High voltage diplomacy by New Delhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has clearly not lulled China or for that matter the United States to dilute their strategic concerns in South Asia with Pakistan remaining central to both.
China has blocked the move by India to get the United Nations Sanctions Committee to take action against Pakistan for the release of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi from a Pakistani jail last month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to news agencies, telephoned the Chinese premier on the issue. Officials here said that the matter had been taken up at the “highest level.” But there has been no word about the Chinese response to these efforts.
India’s permanent representative to the UN, Asoke Mukherjee had written to the current Chair of the Committee Jim McLay last month against Lakhvi’s release, terming it a violation of the UN resolution 1267 UN resolution dealing with designated entities and individuals. The meeting had been scheduled at India’s request.
China, however, has blocked this with the argument that India has not provided sufficient information. The Sanctions Committee met at the United Nations in New York but was unable to proceed because of China’s objection.
Lakhvi, 55, faces trial, along with six others, over the attack in 2008 in Mumbai, in which 166 people were killed. The cases have made virtually no progress in more than five years, paving the way for his release on April 9, PTI reported.
Lakhvi, a close relative of LeT founder and Jamaat-Ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted a year later for his role in one of India's deadliest terror attacks.
China’s objection has created a stir in New Delhi, more so as it comes after what officials had described as a “successful” visit by PM Modi to Beijing. Clearly a gap remains with China unwilling to create a distance between Beijing and Islamabad at this stage.
New Delhi has in the meanwhile felt the diplomatic pressure being exerted by the United States on India and Pakistan to move back from the brink of hostility, towards better relations and peace. For the fourth time in a row in recent weeks, the US State Department urged the two neighbours to improve relations and dilute palpable tensions. Spokesperson John Kirby said the US was keen “that relations between the two countries continue to improve over a range of issues”.Earlier US State Department official, Jeff Rathke, urged India and Pakistan “to take steps to reduce tensions and to move towards resuming talks”.
Subsequently the two Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif respectively, spoke over the telephone. PM Modi called PM Sharif for five minutes and both reportedly spoke of improving relations. Sharif reportedly said, "Leaders are like heads of families. They should lead their people to peace and prosperity. Pakistan and India should work together to achieve these objectives."
Modi then tweeted, "Also conveyed to Sharif our decision to release detained Pakistani fishermen on this pious occasion. The fishermen released will be able to be with their families to observe this blessed month.”
Significantly US Secretary of State John Kerry called PM Sharif shortly after this conversation to flag the State Department’s concern about the current relations between India and Pakistan. Kerry said that the tension was a cause of “enormous concern”. He said he was happy with the Pakistani leader’s response, “he was forthright and direct.” State Department officials confirmed to reporters in Washington that they were in touch with the Indian government at the highest levels.
Washington, sources said, have made it clear to both countries that the current level of tensions were totally unacceptable and needed to be addressed by both sides with the utmost urgency.
Lakhvi has become a major issue, souring India’s relations with Pakistan. He was released in April when the Lahore high court suspended his detention and ordered his immediate release. The court was referring to a move by the Pakistan government to detain Lakhvi after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) declared void detention orders in March.
India immediately issued a condemnation, with the Home Ministry saying, “It is the responsibility of the Pakistan government to take all legal measures to ensure that Lakhvi does not come out of jail."The overwhelming evidence against Lakhvi regarding his role in the criminal conspiracy leading to the Mumbai attack has not been properly presented in the Pakistani court by the Pakistani agencies. This should be ensured without delay," the Home Ministry stated.
In December last year, following international outrage over the decision of an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad to grant bail to Lakhvi, the Pakistani government detained Lakhvi under the Maintenance of Public Order act.
Lakhvi had been granted a bail on the condition of surety bonds amounting to Rs. 500,000. The Pakistani government had said that it would appeal the decision and demand a stay order, but following widespread condemnation, moved in to detain the accused.