FINALLY, diplomacy helped the world take a step forward in its fight against terror when the United Nations proscribed terror mastermind Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. Finally, with smart moves using the UN mechanism, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France were able to push a direct resolution that singled out China whose obstinacy could no longer protect Pakistan from getting officially branded as a home to terrorism. Leave alone a smart play of words -- which is an integral part of diplomacy -- the United Nations Security Council could nail down Pakistan as a culprit of terror game it has been sponsoring for decades. For India -- and for Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi -- this is a major diplomatic victory in the sense it could forge meaningful friendship with almost all the nations around the world in general and a few powerful ones in particular.
The proscription of Masood Azhar is an outcome of India’s patient, persistent and powerful diplomatic drive. Of course, as is its wont, Pakistan tried a face-saving device by stating that references to Pulwama terror strike or terrorism in Kashmir have been omitted from the UNSC resolution. This is nothing but a nonsensical attempt to hoodwink the gullible public in Pakistan and a few Indian politicians who are sympathetic towards Islamabad. It is unfortunate that a few Indian politicians are still trying to fudge the importance of this diplomatic step forward by the world with India playing a critical role in the whole process. But then, with eyes yellowed with political jaundice, some rotten heads are certainly going to keep talking utter nonsense. Fortunately for India, the common people never buy such a political muck. However, Islamabad has said that it would abide by the UN sanctions on the issue.
Though nobody knows how Pakistan will interpret the sanctions, its leadership has expressed readiness to tag along, at least for the sake of demonstration of its agreement. There may still be some catch in Islamabad’s expressed willingness. But for the record, Islamabad appears cowed down. An important dimension of the development is China’s conduct of its own diplomacy when the world positioned itself against its obstinacy. Beijing realised that it had been isolated on the issue. That was the reason why Beijing’s language sounded as having been toned down a little in a step-by-step manner. The Chinese leadership did not give up its tough exterior for some time, but kept repeating that the Masood Azhar issue would be resolved.
This step-by-step backing down did help China save its face. Finally, it withdrew its “technical hold” on the issue and that cleared the diplomatic logjam. Diplomacy’s best part is the effort to offer every involved party some or the other face-saving route so that withdrawal from an avowed position does not look like a defeat or a slap on the face. Responding to a collective diplomatic endeavour by global players, Beijing, too, expressed its readiness to withdraw the technical hold and agreed to let the direct resolution get through. Very cautiously, Beijing said that it did so only after studying the details.
These developments demonstrate the power of sensible diplomacy in which each party plays its cards relentlessly and advances or backtracks consciously and smartly with a clear idea of face-saving in case things do not go as per plan. This classic model was clearly evident in the Masood Azhar issue right from start. No matter how diplomacy played itself out, it was a bad day for Pakistan when the UN proscribed Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. Islamabad tried its best to protect the terror mastermind, but could not manage it when even China let things go. This must act as a wake up call for Pakistan in actual terms, though expecting it to happen would be foolhardy.