India furious as China blocks U.N. blacklisting of militant chief

By Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - China has put a hold on India's request to add the head of the Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad to the United Nations' al Qaeda-Islamic State blacklist, U.N. diplomats said on Friday, eliciting an angry reaction from the Indian government. India accused Jaish-e-Mohammad of masterminding a fatal attack on the Pathankot air base in India in January. India had requested that its leader be added to a U.N. Security Council blacklist of groups linked to al Qaeda or Islamic State, the diplomats said, but China objected. The Kashmir-based group Jaish-e-Mohammad has already been blacklisted by the 15-nation Security Council, but not its leader, Maulana Masood Azhar, an Islamist hardliner and long-time foe of India. "We find it incomprehensible that while the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad was listed ... as far back as 2001 for its well-known terror activities and links to al Qaeda, the designation of the group's main leader, financier and motivator, has been put on a technical hold," Indian government spokesman Vikas Swarup said in Washington. "This does not reflect well on the determination that the international community needs to display to decisively defeat the menace of terrorism," he told reporters on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in the U.S. capital. It was not immediately clear why China requested that a hold be placed on the Indian request to blacklist Masood Azhar. Technical holds can be lifted and often arise when a Security Council member wants more information. But sometimes they lead to a permanent blocking of a proposed blacklisting. Asked about China's decision to place a technical hold on the proposed blacklisting of Masood Azhar, Chinese U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi offered no details. "Any listing would have to meet the requirements" for blacklisting, he said. Pakistani security officials have said that a special investigation team set up in Pakistan to probe the Pathankot attack found no evidence implicating Masood Azhar. If Masood Azhar was blacklisted by the U.N. Security Council, he would face a global travel ban and asset freeze. The January 2 attack at Pathankot was followed by a raid on an Indian consulate in Afghanistan that has also been linked to Jaish-e-Mohammad, or the Army of Mohammad. Jaish-e-Mohammad militants are blamed for a 2001 attack on India's parliament that nearly led to a war between the nuclear-armed rivals. (Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Tom Brown)