United Nations, Feb 22 : The Security Council in a show of unanimity on Thursday condemned in the "strongest terms" suicide bombing in Pulwama that killed 40 Indian security personnel and named the Jaish-e-Mohammad's (JeM).
China, which has been protecting JeM chief Masood Azhar, joined the other 14 members of the Council in issuing a press statement that called upon all countries to combat terrorism and to cooperate with the Indian government in bringing the terrorists to justice.
The statement called the February 14 attack a "heinous and cowardly suicide bombing" and noted that the JeM claimed responsibility for it.
A press statement is which is short of a resolution and is usually arrived at by consensus. Since it is not a formal resolution, it saves Beijing from the dilemma of having to vote for it or veto it as a favour to its ally Pakistan.
China has consistently vetoed attempts at the Council to add Azhar to the list of international terrorists facing UN sanctions.
The statement "underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice".
The Council also "reaffirmed the need for all States to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the UN and other obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts", it added.
Taking a hardline on terrorism, it said, "The members of the Security Council reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed".
The tough and unequivocal statement comes despite intense lobbying by Pakistan's Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi to blunt diplomatic reprisals.
On Tuesday, she met with Council President Anatolio Ndong Mba of Equatorial Guinea to appraise them of the "dangerous situation", as well as with other diplomats.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet have called for prosecution of those responsible for the attack.
The Council statement said that it "reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security".
A key phrase in the statement reaffirming "the need for states to combat by all means" terrorism would be a matter of legal interpretation on how far India can go in retaliation, although it would have to be taken "in accordance with the Charter of the UN and other obligations under international law".
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @arulouis)