India Draws Global Attention to the Threat from Terrorism
Asia News Agency
Between October 18 and November 18-19, India hosted the General Assembly of the Interpol, a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, and the third ministerial conference on ‘No Money for Terror’ (NMFT). India may also emphasise counter-terrorism during its rotational presidency of the UNSC this month. All of this is to draw global attention to the threat from terrorism.
These efforts to ensure that terrorism remains high on the international agenda, writes Vivek Katju (retired Indian Foreign Service officer) “are being made at a time when its salience has diminished in the security calculus of other major powers. Their attention is committed to the Russian invasion of Ukraine with its adverse impact on international — especially European — security and global supplies of energy and foodgrains. Besides, neither the United States of America nor China, the world’s foremost contemporary nation states, feels truly threatened by terrorism…..”
Of all the major powers, therefore “it is only India for which terrorism continues to be of the greatest concern; its desire that it remains a most important priority in the global agenda is, therefore, entirely understandable.”
PM Modi’s emphasis: Pakistan or China without naming them
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the conclusion of his November 18 inaugural address to the NMFT conference said, ‘Our intention is to bring the world together in taking the war against terrorism to the next level.’
More specifically, without naming Pakistan or China, Modi targeted them for their role in either promoting or shielding terrorists. Modi said, ‘Certain countries support terrorism as part of their foreign policy. They offer political, ideological and financial support to them.’
This is a position, writes Katju “India has taken for over three decades with regard to Pakistan’s promotion of terrorism in India. The major powers have been fully aware since the 1990s of Pakistan’s use of terrorism against India and also of it giving sanctuary to global terrorist leaders. However, they have acted against Pakistan in the terrorism context only when such action has been warranted by their overall policies on Pakistan and the region. The way Pakistan was grey listed under the Financial Action Task Force and taken off the list recently establishes this point. Under FATF pressure, Pakistan took some steps against some anti-India terrorist groups but these have only been cosmetic. Every major power is aware that Pakistan has not attempted to eliminate anti-India terrorist groups. It continues to nurture them even as they calibrate their attacks on India.
Thus, while PM Modi is right in exhorting the world ‘to unite against all kinds of overt and covert backing of terror’, “but sadly, this is unlikely to be so. His remark, ‘There is no place for an ambiguous approach while dealing with a global threat’, applies to China, which has shielded, on untenable grounds, known Pakistani terrorists from becoming designated under different UN instruments. China’s nexus with Pakistan ensures that it will continue to shield the anti-India terrorists harboured by the latter. Besides, it is unlikely that the US will now be willing to pull out all the stops as it once did with China for designating the Pakistan-based Jaish-eMohammed terrorist organisation leader, Masood Azhar, as a UNdesignated terrorist."
Common definition of ‘terrorism’ and ‘terror financing’
Katju also recalls the concluding remarks of Union home minister, Amit Shah at the NMFT conference where he reiterated Modi’s appeal to the global community to come together to combat terrorism, including through the choking of its financing. Katju identifies “two issues which require a realistic appraisal from the criterion of practicability. The first was his appeal that ‘all countries will have to agree on one common definition of ‘terrorism’ and ‘terror financing’. Sadly, there is no consensus on the definition. “Instead, it has focused on acts of different kinds which it has considered as terrorist in nature. Thus, it may be futile in the foreseeable future to expend diplomatic capital and energy to find a universally acceptable definition of terrorism, howsoever laudable such a quest may be in principle. Instead, it would be appropriate to focus on terrorist acts that countries like Pakistan undertake as State policy. This would apply also to seeking a definition of ‘terrorist financing’. The emphasis should be more on cutting the flow of funds to violent and terrorist groups through global cooperation on the basis of steps outlined in Shah’s speech.”
Permanent secretariat for NMFT: The second point that Shah suggested was the establishment of a permanent secretariat to anchor the NMFT’s efforts. India now seeks to take this suggestion forward by circulating ‘a discussion paper to all Participating Jurisdictions’. Diplomatic experience, says Katju “shows that the effectiveness of efforts does not depend on the creation of international bureaucracies but on the will of concerned countries in taking initiatives forward. And their will depends on their evaluation of their national interests….”