India couldn’t have asked for a better start to its stint at the UN Security Council.
On its first day on the council on Wednesday, India was elected to chair the important committee on counter terrorism, which gives it a significant voice and clout in the ongoing effort against the worst security threat facing the world.
A little later, the UN mission in Nepal in support of the peace process was officially wound down, something which India had been working towards for a while. “Basically getting UN out of India’s backyard,” said a diplomat.
Not a bad day for India, which returned to the Security Council after 19 years to begin a two-year temporary, non-permanent stint, widely seen as a dress rehersal for a larger role — a permanent seat — in not too distant a future.
“An excellent first day for India,” Permanent Representative to UN Hardeep Puri told HT.
While India took its position in the council officially on January 1, it attended the full and open meeting of the body for the first time on Wednesday, making its first appearance in the elite grouping.
India has been preparing for the day for a long time. Its permanent mission in New York launched press and public outreach weeks ago, getting out its message on where it stands on major issues. The Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee was set up in 2001 within weeks of the September 11 attacks to monitor implementation UN resolution asking member nations to deny terrorist outfits access to funds and havens.
“That gives India, long a victim of terrorism, a chance to use all available forums now to increase the pitch against terrorism,” said an Indian diplomat refusing to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to reporters.
Specifically, this position will give India additional ammunition against state-backed terrorism across its border in Pakistan, whose ambivalent fight against terrorism had frustrated the world and its ally the US. The UN mission in Nepal was the first briefing India received as part of the Security Council, and happily for it, Representative Karin Landgren’s recommendation to wind down her mission was accepted. Its extended term was lapsing on January 15.
The mission was set up in 2007 to help Nepal transition to a democracy after the Maoists-led political alliance overthrew the monarchy. It was set up at the request of the Nepalese government. India saw this as something of an encroachment in its backyard invited by the Maoists, who have always viewed New Delhi with suspicion. “We had been working behind the scenes for its end,” said the Indian diplomat, adding, “as we were not part of the council then.”
But that the mission’s end was announced on India’s first day in the council was seen as not merely a coincidence.