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China extends hold on Indian bid to ban Jaish chief Masood Azhar at UN

China on Saturday extended its technical hold on India’s move to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar at the United Nations (UN), Times of India reported. The move will hold for at least three months, and comes two days before China’s hold was set to expire.

China blocked India’s call to ban the Jaish chief at the UN in April this year, after India accused the militant group and its chief of carrying out the Pathankot attack.

Director General of India’s National Investigation Agency Sharad Kumar said in June, however, that there was no evidence that Pakistan’s government was involved in the Pathankot attack.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in Beijing, “The technical hold on India’s listing application submitted to the 1267 Committee in March 2016 has already been extended… There are still different views on India’s listing application. The extended technical hold on it will allow more time for the committee to deliberate on the matter and for relevant parties to have further consultations.”

Six militants besieged the 2,000-acre Pathankot air base in an attack that stretched on nearly a week.

The attack occurred just days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a ‘surprise’ visit to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and the occasion of his granddaughter’s wedding in December 2015 ─ a move that appeared to promise better relations between the neighbouring countries in the coming year.

Following Indian accusations earlier this year that Jaish was responsible for the attacks, Pakistani authorities cracked down on the group, sealing a Jaish-run seminary in Sialkot and taking group leader Masood Azhar into protective custody.

However, Pakistan’s Joint Investigating Team (JIT) investigating the airbase attack in told Indian interlocutors earlier this year that had yet to find evidence linking Masood Azhar to the terror attack.

On February 18, a list of 11 individuals and one organisation “linked to terrorism in India”, was submitted to the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (the militant Islamic State group) and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

The UN banned Jaish in 2001 but India’s efforts to get restrictions imposed on Azhar after the Mumbai attacks did not bear fruit because China did not allow them to be imposed.

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