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‘Terror apologists’: At UN, India blasts Pakistan inaction

No countries were named when India’s permanent representative Syed Akbaruddin made the appeal during an open debate at the Security Council on preventing the financing of terror, but he called out a “serial offender” for its support to terrorism – a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2019 08:06 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington

India has called on the UN Security Council to ensure the implementation of counter-terror sanctions, saying “apologists for terrorists” or member-states that support them will continue to make excuses for their inaction.

No countries were named when India’s permanent representative Syed Akbaruddin made the appeal during an open debate at the Security Council on preventing the financing of terror, but he called out a “serial offender” for its support to terrorism – a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan.

“Terrorists are going to be ever more creative in finding ways to violate the rulebook,” he said. “Also the unfortunate reality is that states who are apologists for terrorists will continue to provide alibis to justify their actions and inaction too, as was done by a serial offender earlier today.”

Earlier, Pakistan’s envoy Maleeha Lodhi had said UN sanctions and other instruments and institutions for combating terror, such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has grey-listed Pakistan, shouldn’t be politicised.

She also brought up the Kashmir issue, as Pakistan always does at the UN.

India’s appeal for more robust enforcement of sanctions regimes came against the backdrop of a push by the US in the Security Council to blacklist Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, whose group claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide car bombing in Pulwama that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers.

JeM was designated a terrorist group by UN’s Islamic State and al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee in 2001 and Lashkar-e-Toiba in 2005.

Azhar’s listing by the Sanctions Committee was blocked by China, which put a technical hold on the latest and fourth attempt two weeks ago. The US, along with France and the UK, then decided to take the proposal to the Security Council and circulated a draft resolution on Wednesday, setting off informal discussions that can lead to an open debate and vote by the full council.

On Friday, China, defending its attempts to block Azhar’s listing, rebutted the US allegation that this action amounted to protecting terrorists from sanctions. US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has denounced China’s “shameful hypocrisy” toward Muslims, saying Beijing abuses more than a million Muslims at home but protects violent Islamic terror groups from UN sanctions.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the practice of placing a hold was in line with the rules of the Sanctions Committee. “If a certain country accuses China of sheltering terrorists by putting technical hold, does that mean all the countries that put such holds are sheltering terrorists,” he asked.

China’s hold, he reiterated, is meant to allow an assessment and to make time for dialogue and consultations.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously adopted a French-drafted resolution that was the first stand-alone measure dedicated to countering terror financing. The resolution urged all states to ensure “their domestic laws and regulations establish serious criminal offenses” to prosecute those who collect funds or provide economic resources to terror groups or terrorists.

The binding resolution was drafted under chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which means it can be enforced with sanctions. UN counter-terror chief Vladimir Voronkov said the measure “comes at a critical time” as recent attacks had shown terror groups have access to financial flows through legal and illegal means.

The resolution urged countries to establish financial intelligence units to strengthen efforts to track terror financing and to share information. FATF president Marshall Billingslea said less than a fifth of countries are applying laws that prosecute suspected terror financiers. The resolution will also help FATF increase pressure on more than 50 countries to pass new legislation on terror financing.

India argued during Thursday’s debate that while the resolution on terror financing was a “milestone”, efforts must be made to ensure its implementation. “As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in its eating, the utility of any council resolution will, therefore, be in its implementation,” Akbaruddin said.

He said implementation reports on measures imposed by 1267 Sanctions Committee had not been updated for years and in some cases for more than a decade. India would also like to see better coordination between FATF and UN bodies.

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 23:57 IST