Pak-based terror groups LeT, JeM operate with impunity, encouragement: India at UNSC

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar drew a parallel between the COVID pandemic and global scourge of terrorism, saying 'none of us are safe until all of us are safe'

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (File photo)
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (File photo)
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PTI

Terror groups like the LeT and JeM continue to operate with both impunity and encouragement, India told the UN Security Council on Thursday and underlined that no country should provide sanctuaries to them, as it recalled the Mumbai, Pathankot and Pulwama attacks carried out by Pakistan-based terrorists.

"Whether it is in Afghanistan or against India, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed continue to operate with both impunity and encouragement. It is, therefore, vital that this Council does not take a selective, tactical or even a complacent view of the problems we face," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said.

"We must never countenance sanctuaries for terrorists or overlook the raising of their resources," said Jaishankar, as he chaired the Security Council briefing on 'Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts', held under India's current Presidency of the 15-member Council.

Speaking in his national capacity, Jaishankar, slamming Pakistan, where proscribed UN terrorists and terror groups enjoy safe havens and state support, said when we see state hospitality being extended to those with innocents blood on their hands, we should never lack the courage to call out this double-speak.

He drew a parallel between the COVID-19 pandemic and the global scourge of terrorism, saying that what is true of COVID is even more true of terrorism: none of us are safe until all of us are safe.

The UNSC briefing considered the 13th report of the Secretary General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da'esh) to international peace and security. The August 3 report states that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant Khorasan has expanded its presence in several provinces of Afghanistan and strengthened its positions in and around Kabul.

The report said that one of the main risks identified by member states is that "militants in Afghanistan, from the Taliban or other groups, may join the Da'esh affiliate if they feel alienated or threatened by developments in the Afghan peace process".

Davood Moradian, Director General of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, who escaped from Kabul as the Taliban took control of the country, also addressed the UNSC meeting and told the Council that one of the passengers that fell to the ground from a flying US plane was reportedly a member of Afghanistan's national football team.

Jaishankar said that in India's own immediate neighborhood, ISIL-Khorasan (ISIL-K) has become more energetic and is constantly seeking to expand its footprint. This should be taken seriously, he said.

"Events unfolding in Afghanistan have naturally enhanced global concerns about their implications for both regional and international security," he said adding that the heightened activities of the proscribed Haqqani Network justifies this growing anxiety.

He told the Council that ISIL's modus operandi has changed, with the core focusing on regaining ground in Syria and Iraq and affiliates functioning independently. "This evolving phenomenon is extremely dangerous and poses a new set of challenges to our collective efforts in our fight against ISIL and terrorism," he said.

The meeting came as the world gears to commemorate next month 20 years of the horrific 9/11 tragedy in New York. "We, in India, have of course had more than our fair share of challenges and casualties. The 2008 Mumbai terror attack is imprinted in our memories," he said.

"The 2016 Pathankot air base attack and the 2019 suicide bombing of our policemen at Pulwama are even more recent," he said, expressing solidarity with victims and their families all over the world who have suffered, and continue to suffer, from the scourge of terrorism. "We must never compromise with this evil," he added.

In a swipe at China, Jaishankar told the Council that countries should not place blocks and holds without any reason on requests to designate terrorists, warning that any double standards and distinctions between terrorists would be made only at "our own peril".

Jaishankar alluded to his remarks to the Council made in January this year when he had proposed an eight-point action plan aimed at collectively eliminating the scourge of terrorism.

"Summon the political will: don't justify terrorism, don't glorify terrorists; No double standards. Terrorists are terrorists; distinctions are made only at our own peril; Don't place blocks and holds on listing requests without any reason," he said.

This was in reference to China repeatedly placing technical holds on bids by India and other nations to designate head of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed Masood Azhar.

The United Nations designated Azhar as a global terrorist in 2019 after China lifted its hold on a proposal to blacklist him under the Security Council's Sanctions Committee, slapping an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on him, 10 years after India first moved to have him blacklisted at the UN.

Jaishankar had also called for discouraging "exclusivist thinking" and be on guard against new terminologies and false priorities. He stressed that enlisting and delisting should be done objectively, and not on political or religious considerations.

The international community should also recognise the linkage to organised crime, support and strengthen the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and and provide greater funding to UN Office of Counter Terrorism, he said.

"I call on this Council to collectively build on these principles. It is also important therefore to end the stalemate preventing the adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which India has championed for so long," he said.

He stressed that the international community holds a collective view that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations must be condemned.

"There cannot be any exception or any justification for any act of terrorism, regardless of motivations behind such acts. We also recognise that the menace of terrorism cannot be and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group. However, in spite of the progress we have made to tighten the legal, security, financing and other frameworks to combat terrorism, terrorists are constantly finding newer ways of motivating, resourcing and executing acts of terror. Unfortunately, there are also some countries who seek to undermine or subvert our collective resolve to fight terrorism. That cannot be allowed to pass," he said.

Noting that the latest report of the Secretary General has provided another stark reminder that ISIL (Daesh) continues to pose a critical threat to international peace and security, he said the financial resource mobilisation of ISIL (Daesh) has become more robust.

"The flow of funds has continued and rewards for killings, I believe, are now even being paid in Bitcoins! The radicalisation of vulnerable youth by systematic online propaganda campaign remains a serious concern," Jaishankar said.

Pakistan-based Hafiz Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty on, has been convicted for 36 years imprisonment in five terror financing cases. He is serving a jail sentence at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore for his conviction in terror financing cases.

Saeed-led Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) is the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

In 2019, the United Nations designated Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a "global terrorist".

India's most wanted terrorist Azhar has been charge-sheeted in several cases from the 2001 Parliament attack to the 2019 Pulwama suicide bombing.

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