“First, we must all summon up the political will to unhesitatingly combat terrorism. There must be no ifs and buts in this fight. Nor should we allow terrorism to be justified and terrorists glorified. All member States must fulfill their obligations enshrined in international counter terrorism instruments and conventions,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in a virtual address.
He was speaking at the UNSC Ministerial Meeting on ‘Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts: International cooperation in combating terrorism 20 years after the adoption of resolution 1373 (2001),’ the first address by Jaishankar to the Security Council after India began its two-year tenure on the 15-nation body this month.
Jaishankar proposed an eight-point Action Plan for the UN system to credibly address the menace of terrorism and ensure effective action. He asserted that linkages between terrorism and transnational organised crime must be fully recognised and addressed vigorously.
He is the senior-most Indian leader to address the UNSC since India joined the 15-member council this month.
“We, in India, have seen the crime syndicate responsible for the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts not just given State protection but actually enjoying 5-star hospitality,” he said, alluding to D-Company and its head Ibrahim, believed to be hiding in Pakistan.
In August last year, Pakistan had for the first time acknowledged the presence of Ibrahim on its soil after the government imposed sweeping sanctions on 88 banned terror groups and their leaders which also included the name of the underworld don wanted by India.
Jaishankar emphasised that the international community must not “countenance double standards” in the battle against terrorism.
“Terrorists are terrorists; there are no good and bad ones. Those who propagate this distinction have an agenda. And those who cover up for them are just as culpable,” he said.
“Accordingly, we must reform the working methods of the Committees dealing with Sanctions and Counter Terrorism. Transparency, accountability and effectiveness are the need of the day. The practice of placing blocks and holds on listing requests without any rhyme or reason must end. This only erodes our collective credibility,” he said, an apparent reference to China which had repeatedly blocked India’s bids at the UN to designate Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.
Before India succeeded in its nearly 10-year long efforts to have Azhar designated as a global terrorist at the UN last year, China, Pakistan’s all-weather ally, had repeatedly blocked New Delhi’s attempts to list him under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UNSC.
In a strongly-worded statement, Jaishankar said combating terrorist financing will only be as effective as the weakest jurisdiction. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) should continue to identify and remedy weaknesses in anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing frameworks.
Jaishankar also underlined that enlisting and delisting individuals and entities under the UN sanctions regimes must be done objectively, “not for political or religious considerations. Proposals in this regard merit due examination before circulation.”
Last year, Pakistan had made attempts to get four Indian nationals listed as terrorists under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UNSC. Pakistan’s attempt was thwarted as the US, the UK, France, Germany and Belgium blocked the move in the Council as no evidence was given by Islamabad.
Jaishankar said the global community must firmly discourage “exclusivist thinking” that divides the world and harms the social fabric.
“Such approaches facilitate radicalisation and recruitment by breeding fear, mistrust, and hatred among different communities. The Council should be on guard against new terminologies and misleading priorities that can dilute our focus,” he said.
He voiced concern that in recent years, terrorist groups and lone wolf attackers have significantly enhanced their capabilities by gaining access to new and emerging technologies, including drones, virtual currencies and encrypted communications. Social media networks have also contributed to the radicalisation and recruitment of youth.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only aggravated the situation. The relative isolation and extended disruption due to the lockdowns and the associated distress and economic uncertainty has made the world more susceptible to radicalising narratives and extremist propaganda,” he said.
UNSC Resolution 1373, adopted in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, is a reminder that terrorism continues to be the gravest threat to mankind.
“It not only grievously impacts human life but uproots the very foundation of humanity,” he said, adding that India has always been at the forefront of global counter terrorism efforts.
In 1996, long before the adoption of Resolution 1373, India took the initiative to pilot the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism with the objective of providing a comprehensive legal framework to combating terrorism.