The Chinese bailout of Pakistan on the Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi case in the United Nations on Tuesday was as obvious as a hurtling fivetonne truck around the corner. What was more astonishing was that one expected that the UN Sanctions Committee would ask Pakistan to rearrest Lakhvi. The release last April of the mastermind of 26/11 was in violation of the UN resolution on terrorist organisations and groups.
The Chinese have behaved similarly in the past. Beijing blocked sanctions against the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar in 2009. In December 2010, they prevented the UN Security Council (UNSC) from imposing sanctions on Hafiz Saeed and the Jamat-ud Dawa. And earlier this year, they blocked Indian efforts to put Hizb-ul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin on the terrorist list.
Lakhvi is not important to the Chinese. But the symbolism of their move is. It suits China to be difficult with India and express its irritation with our attitude on oil exploration in the South China Sea. A veto on Lakhvi is a painless exhibition of solidarity with Pakistan that plays the victim card effectively. Beijing is aware that Pakistan will never take any action in the 26/11 case that will give India comfort. It is simply gathering another IOU from Pakistan knowing how important Lakhvi's incarceration is for India.