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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

US backs India’s terror tag for fugitives in Pak

The amendment to the UAPA allows the Indian government to designate individuals as terrorists, making it match similar US laws opening an added avenue for joint action against terrorists.

india Updated: Sep 05, 2019 23:13 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
India officially declared on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, that the leaders of two Pakistan-based militant groups are terrorists under a new law. The Home Ministry named Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed as terrorists under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act. US has backed India’s declaration.
India officially declared on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, that the leaders of two Pakistan-based militant groups are terrorists under a new law. The Home Ministry named Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed as terrorists under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act. US has backed India’s declaration. (AP)
         

The United States on Wednesday offered a resounding endorsement of the designation of four Pakistan-based terrorists by India in a move that should give pause to Islamabad, which has sought to reset ties with Washington by leveraging its role in the Afghanistan peace process.

“We stand w/ #India & commend it for utilizing new legal authorities to designate 4 notorious terrorists: Maulana Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi & Dawood Ibrahim,” Alice G Wells, the top US diplomat for South and Central Asia, wrote on Twitter.

“This new law expands possibilities for joint #USIndia efforts to combat scourge of terrorism,” she added.

India designated Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Azhar; Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Saeed and Lakhvi, the mastermind and operational head of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, respectively; and Dawood Ibrahim, the Indian underworld don believed to be in Pakistan after masterminding the 1993 Mumbai bombings. These were the first designations announced by India after an existing law was amended to expand its reach to also cover individual and not just organisations.

These four men have been on the US list of designated terrorists for a long time, along with their respective outfits (with the exception of Ibrahim, who doesn’t lead a well-defined group such as the LeT or JeM); and since past April, on the UN Security Council’s blacklist as well, with Azhar being the last addition as the result of a US-led effort to overcome years of resistance from China, acting on behalf of Pakistan.

Wells’s ringing endorsement of the Indian announcement of designations of terrorists based in Pakistan should serve as reminder of Pakistan as a hub and home of terrorists with proven capabilities to strike anywhere in the world and not just in the South Asian neighbourhood of India and Afghanistan.

Islamabad’s support of terrorists and their use as a tool of state policy had slipped off US crosshairs as the Trump administration leaned on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to use Pakistan’s clout with the Taliban to push it into talks with the United States to end the Afghanistan war, an election promise President Trump is keen to have on his done-checklist for his 2020 re-election bid.

During a White House visit in July, Khan, who was accompanied by army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) head Faiz Hameed, assured Trump and his officials of his government’s cooperation. “We hope that in the coming days we will be able to urge the Taliban to speak to the Afghan government and come to a settlement -- a political solution,” Khan had said then in remarks before their delegation-level meeting.

Trump seemed to have been waiting to hear that. “What the prime minister just said is a very big story,” he said. “And it’s 100% true.”

Moments after, Khan appealed to Trump, invoking the greatness of America, to mediate in Kashmir, and the US president granted his acquiescence right away, throwing US ties with India, which has opposed third-party interference and insisted the dispute can only be resolved, off the rails for the next few weeks.

As expected, the Modi government rejected Trump’s offer of mediation, swiftly and unequivocally so as to leave no room for confusion and second thoughts. But the American leader pressed on, and renewed his offer in an interaction with reporters some days later.

Pakistan sought to build on it with a high-pitch, all-in diplomatic campaign in other major capitals and at the UN. But it has been fruitless so far. UN secretary general Antonio Gueterres reminded Pakistan of its commitment to resolving disputes bilaterally under the 1972 Simla Agreement, and the UN security council dismissed its appeal for a formal and open meeting and granted it a closed-door informal hearing.

President Trump has moved on as well. “The Prime Minister really feels he has it under control,” he said on the sidelines of the G-7 meetings in Biarritz, France, last month, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ahead of their meeting. “I know they speak with Pakistan, and I’m sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good.”

When pressed by reporters about his mediation offer, Trump said, “I have a very good relationship with both gentlemen, and I’m here. If for any reason -- but I think they can do it themselves very well. They’ve been doing it for a long time.”

And now comes the strong US endorsement of the Indian designation of Pakistan-based terror masterminds.

First Published: Sep 05, 2019 09:41 IST