China, US mount pressure on Pakistan ahead of UNSC meet on JeM case

China, US mount pressure on Pakistan ahead of UNSC meet on JeM case
In this file photo, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, right, speaks next to the media at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Islamabad on Feb. 26, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 March 2019

China, US mount pressure on Pakistan ahead of UNSC meet on JeM case

China, US mount pressure on Pakistan ahead of UNSC meet on JeM case
  • UN sanctions committee set to take up fresh resolution to blacklist head of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group
  • China has twice prevented the Security Council from sanctioning JeM leader Masood Azhar

ISLAMABAD: The US National Security Adviser (NSA) encouraged Pakistan to take “meaningful steps” against militant groups operating from Pakistani soil while China advised Pakistan to engage in “serious discussions” on countering terrorism, piling international pressure on Islamabad ahead of a United Nations meeting that will once more take up the issue of blacklisting the head of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group.
Last month, the United States, Britain and France proposed that the United Nations Security Council blacklist Masood Azhar whose JeM claimed a February 14 suicide attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy in disputed Kashmir that killed at least 40 paramilitary troopers. 
In the past, China has twice prevented the Security Council’s Islamic State and Al-Qaeda sanctions committee from blacklisting JeM leader Masood Azhar.
“China will continue to communicate and work with relevant parties in a responsible manner so as to properly resolve this matter. Only by making a decision through responsible and serious discussions can we resolve the issue in a sustainable manner,” the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a media briefing in Beijing on Monday. 
“We have had extensive and in-depth talks with both sides,” he added, referring to India and Pakistan.
In a tweet posted on Tuesday, US NSA John Bolton said he had spoken via phone to Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi “to encourage meaningful steps against JeM and other terrorist groups operating from Pakistan.”
“The FM [foreign minister] assured me that Pakistan would deal firmly with all terrorists and will continue steps to deescalate tensions with India,” he said. 
The February 14 suicide attack in Indian-administered Kashmir nearly pushed nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and India to the brink of war as they engaged in aerial dogfights and carried out airstrikes on each other’s territory last month.
A statement released by the Pakistan Foreign Office on Monday detailed “de-escalatory measures taken by Pakistan” last month. 
“Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to hand over the Indian pilot as a gesture of goodwill toward India,” the statement said, referring to an Indian wing commander who was captured by Pakistan after his jet was shot down. “Pakistan’s High Commissioner to New Delhi had also returned to Delhi after consultations.”
The statement said Pakistan would also send an official delegation to India on March 14 to discuss the agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor between India and Pakistan that Sikh pilgrims will use to access holy sites. Pakistan, the statement said, was also ready to continue weekly contacts at the Military Operations Directorate level.
China has praised Pakistan’s “restraint” and willingness to talk with India to ease tensions between the two countries. War between the arch-rivals would jeopardize a $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) of infrastructure and energy projects that is vital to Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
“China is an important factor in this regard because it has clearly asked [Pakistan] to clean up this the mess,” Salman Ali Bhittani, a lecturer at Quaid-e-Azam University, told Arab News.
Last week, Pakistan said it had taken over hundreds of religious schools linked to banned groups and arrested dozens of members of proscribed organizations in a renewed push against militant outfits. 
Last year, the global watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), put Pakistan on a watchlist of nations with inadequate controls to prevent terror financing and money laundering, handicapping chances of attracting Western investment in Pakistan’s fragile economy.