The development is being seen as a huge victory for India which through its mature diplomacy persuaded Pakistan's all-weather friend China to lift the 'technical hold' on a proposal seeking the global terrorist tag for Azhar.
Opposition leaders cutting across party lines have come together to downplay the success of the current dispensation in getting Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Massod Azar designated as a global terrorist at the United Nations. The development, which comes bang in the middle of elections, is being seen as a huge victory for India which through its mature diplomacy persuaded Pakistan’s all-weather friend China to lift the ‘technical hold’ on a proposal seeking the global terrorist tag for Azhar.
Moments after the news broke, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed victory for India and mentioned this in his political speech at Jaipur, Rajasthan. Fearing that Modi could leverage the momentum, opposition leaders including Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath, and Asaduddin Owaisi tried to downplay the whole development saying all the previous governments should be credited and it wasn’t tangible action.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh suggested that the move won’t help as Prime Minister Imran Khan and Narendra Modi are ‘friends’. Another Congress leader and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath linked the move with elections in India and said: “It was long due…this should have happened a long time ago. This has happened during elections, I don’t know if this has something to do with the elections.”
Not just the Congress, there has been a concerted effort by the Opposition in the last 12 hours or so to discredit the government’s achievement and even allege a conspiracy. Considering that the development comes right in the middle of the all-important Lok Sabha elections, opposition parties know well that will stand to benefit and are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that does not happen.
A look at the statements issued by prominent leaders across parties showed that the UN move to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist has rattled the opposition and come as a shot in the arm for Narendra Modi who is contesting these elections with nationalism as its biggest plank.
Here’s how opposition leaders reacted to Masood Azhar’s designation at the UN:
Too little too late: Randeep Singh Surjewala, Congress
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said that his party expected the Modi government to act a greater speed in pursuing the declaration of Masood Azhar, but after the ‘agenda less’ visit of the prime minister to China (Wuhan Summit) they did not push for this case with China in the entire period of 2018. “Several precious lives in terror attacks like Pulwama could have been avoided if Modi government had pushed international community, including China to agree to a declaration of Masood Azhar as an international terrorist,” he said in a statement.
Credit to previous government: Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Congress
Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that Prime Minister Modi should give credit to all previous governments who consistently raised the issue and pressed it. He further said that foreign policy achievements are always a continuity. “Congratulations to Modi ji regarding declaration of Azhar as a global terrorist. The world stands against Azhar and terrorism, so how can India not be united? Modiji should give credit to all previous governments who consistently raised the issue and pressed it. Foreign policy achievements are always a continuity,” Singhvi said in a tweet.
Cosmetic action: Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said that PM Modi delivered only cosmetic actions and nothing tangible has been achieved in India’s fight against terror. He said JeM was already a designated group and Saeed was also designated as a terrorist but nothing happened against him. “Also, what did we get in return? We absolved Azhar of not just Pulwama but all terrorism in Kashmir, by agreeing to this meaningless designation. National Security is not an exercise in event management,” Asaduddin Owaisi said.
Symbolic win: Omar Abdullah, National Conference
NC chief and Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah called the designation of Azhar a ‘symbolic win’. In a tweet, he said: “No mention of terror in Kashmir & no mention of Pulwama. It’s amazing how quickly the sacrifices of the CRPF men were sold down the river to get a symbolic win.” He was referring to 40 CRPF soldiers who lost their lives in the terror strike in Pulwama.
No credit to govt: Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party
SP chief and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav congratulated the diplomatic efforts but gave no credit to the government or the prime minister. He said: “I congratulate the Indian diplomatic corp for the tireless work that has led to this significant victory- it is the first step in ensuring Masood Azhar pays for his crimes. We demand Pakistan immediately arrest him, freeze his assets and shut down all organisations linked to him.”
How will it help: Digvijaya Singh, Congress
Senior Congress leader Singh said: “How will the listing (Azhar as a global terrorist) help when the Pakistan Prime Minister is flaunting his friendship with Modi. I would say, Dawood Ibrahim, Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed should be immediately handed over to India.”
Connected to elections? Kamal Nath, Congress
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath said: “It (was long due, it is good that it has been done. This should have happened a long time ago. But I don’t know if this has something to do with the elections.”
The development on Wednesday comes on the back of multiple attempts by New Delhi to declare Azhar a global terrorist but Beijing stopped the move citing lack of evidence. After Pulawama, India again moved its proposal only to see China side with Pakistan. However, it was becoming difficult for China to continue with its objection as 14 out of 15 UN members had backed India. Following this, India stepped up its effort and foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale made several trips to the US and China to get the Pulwama perpetrator designated as a global terrorist at the UN.
The BJP sought to counter the opposition’s narrative by saying that some leaders think that if they join in this victory they might have to pay a political price for it. The jury may still be out on whether this issue will have any bearing on the prospects of PM Narendra Modi in the ongoing elections. However, given that the issue of national security and the government’s actions against terror in Balakot have given a significant boost to the PM’s image. The Opposition’s concerted attempt to limit the government from taking credit for the move may act as just the shot in the arm that Modi needs to turn the elections in his favour.