Pak cornered at UNSC, faces heat on terrorism
The UK on Thursday called for more action by Pakistan to counter terror emanating from its soil against the backdrop of a majority of the members of the UN Security Council rejecting an effort by Islamabad to rake up the Kashmir issue with Beijing’s backing.
Gareth Bayley, the UK prime minister’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said “all options are on the table” if Islamabad fails to implement the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) action plan to counter terror financing and crack down on terrorists operating from Pakistani soil.
India strongly criticised Pakistan and China for raising Kashmir during closed-door consultations at the UN Security Council on Thursday, saying Islamabad’s attempts to “peddle baseless allegations” lacked credibility. While India has directed its criticism of recent efforts to raise Kashmir at the UN mostly at Pakistan, the external affairs ministry also called on China not to persist with such actions given the lack of support from the world community.
China’s effort to discuss Kashmir at the UN Security Council, the second such move since December, ended without any outcome after members of the body such as the US, the UK and France made it clear the issue should be handled bilaterally by India and Pakistan, people familiar with developments said.
Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue, a think tank event backed by the external affairs ministry, Bayley said: “It is absolutely clear terrorist groups are operating from within Pakistan. They pose a serious challenge to the government of Pakistan and to South Asia’s regional stability.”
Britain has “engaged hard” on this issue with the top Pakistani leadership and underlined the importance of action against proxy groups, terrorism and extremism, he said.
“So far, there is definitely some progress that has been made, there is so much more progress that needs to be done. We say to Pakistan...a step change is required and Prime Minister [Imran] Khan and army chief [Gen Qamar] Bajwa have made very clear commitments (which) can be seen on public record,” Bayley said.
Most of this progress has been in terms of legislation on counterterrorism financing and remittances, and detentions and arrests, and the FATF is scrutinising evidence provided by Pakistan. Bayley cautioned that “all options are on the table” if Pakistan fails to deliver on its commitments to the FATF and doesn’t “keep moving in a sustainable, significant and non-reversible direction”.
During a regular news briefing, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar referred to the move by Pakistan and China to “misuse the platform of UN Security Council” and said: “The overwhelming majority of the UNSC were of the view that the UNSC was not the right forum for such issues and this should be discussed bilaterally between India and Pakistan.”
The informal closed-door meeting of the Security Council ended without outcome, and this “highlighted that Pakistan’s desperate measures to peddle baseless allegations and presenting an alarming scenario lacked any credibility”, Kumar said.
He said, “We sincerely hope the message has gone out loud and clear to Pakistan that, if at all, there is any matter between India and Pakistan that needs to be discussed, it should be discussed bilaterally.” Pakistan could avoid “global embarrassment” by refraining from such acts in future, he added.
Kumar also said China “should seriously reflect on this global consensus, draw the proper lessons and refrain from taking such action in the future”.
India’s concerns on issues such as Kashmir have been “discussed at high level meetings, taken up at different levels” with China and New Delhi’s perspective was well known to Beijing, he said.
People familiar with developments pointed to external affairs minister S Jaishankar’s remarks at the Raisina Dialogue on Wednesday about the need for India and China to find equilibrium and understanding on issues affecting their relations, and said this reflected New Delhi’s desire to improve ties with Beijing.
“The minister said the two sides must get along, but China should realise they cannot go on raising such issues on behalf of Pakistan,” said a person who declined to be identified.