Can’t be complacent about terror groups in Afghanistan, says India at UNSC meet

Aug 19, 2021 11:44 PM IST

External affairs minister S Jaishankar raised India’s concerns about Pakistan-based terror groups such as LeT and JeM, saying these groups continue to operate with both impunity and encouragement in Afghanistan and against India.

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday pointed to the heightened threat posed by terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Haqqani Network due to the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and said the UN Security Council cannot afford any complacency on this issue.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar said events unfolding in Afghanistan have enhanced global concerns about their implications for regional and international security. (ANI)
External affairs minister S Jaishankar said events unfolding in Afghanistan have enhanced global concerns about their implications for regional and international security. (ANI)

External affairs minister S Jaishankar raised India’s concerns while chairing a Security Council briefing on the theme, “Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts”, against the backdrop of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan over the weekend. This was the third signature event organised by India while holding the rotating presidency of the UN’s top body for August.

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Other Security Council members joined India’s call for a zero tolerance approach towards all forms of terrorism, and most of the countries, including the US, the UK and China, called for holding the Taliban accountable to its commitment to not allow Afghan soil to be used any terrorist groups.

Also Read: Taliban is more clear-headed, rational than two decades ago, says China

Jaishankar reiterated an eight-point action plan to counter terrorism that he had proposed while addressing the Security Council in January. The plan envisages greater political will to tackle terror, dropping double standards on terrorism, not placing blocks and holds on requests for sanctioning terrorist individuals and groups without reason, and strengthening the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Turning to terror threats in India’s immediate neighbourhood, Jaishankar said: “Events unfolding in Afghanistan have naturally enhanced global concerns about their implications for both regional and international security. The heightened activities of the proscribed Haqqani Network justifies this growing anxiety.”

He added the Islamic State-Khorasan has “become more energetic and is constantly seeking to expand its footprint”.

Jaishankar also raised India’s concerns about Pakistan-based terror groups, saying: “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 complacent view of the problems we face.”

Without naming Pakistan, Jaishankar said the world community “must never countenance sanctuaries for terrorists or overlook the raising of their resources”. He added, “And 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...What is true of Covid is even more true of terrorism: none of us are safe until all of us are safe.”

The UN secretary-general’s latest report, he said, provided another stark reminder that Islamic State or Daesh continues to pose a “critical threat to international peace and security”. Daesh is active in Syria and Iraq and its affiliates are growing in strength, particularly in Africa, while the group’s mobilisation of finances has become “more robust”.

He said terrorism “cannot be and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group”. While terrorists are finding newer ways of motivating, resourcing and executing acts of terror, there are “some countries who seek to undermine or subvert our collective resolve to fight terrorism”, he added.

In addition to building on the eight-point action plan for counter-terrorism proposed in January, the Security Council can end the stalemate preventing the adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism put forward by India, Jaishankar said.

At a media stakeout following the briefing, Jaishankar said both India and Afghanistan have been affected by cross-border terrorism.

“I specifically mentioned some of the groups...Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. And I think this is a continuing issue, and we made the point very strongly that it’s important therefore that there are no double standards, there are no distinctions. Terrorism is terrorism,” he said.

Asked about India’s views on the situation in Afghanistan, Jaishankar said the immediate issue for all countries is the repatriation of their nationals. “We are working with international partners in this regard, principally the US because they control the airport,” he said.

“In terms of the longer perspective, we have a historical relationship with the Afghan people and I think that relationship will continue to guide our thoughts and outlook,” he said.

Under India’s initiative, the Security Council adopted a strong and substantive press statement that outlined key concerns, especially to ensure a strict check on terror financing and bringing perpetrators of terror attacks to justice.

The meeting was given a briefing by Vladimir Voronkov, under secretary general of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), and Michele Coninsx, executive director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) on the report on the threat posed by Daesh. Voronkov said the evolving situation in Afghanistan could have far-reaching implications for global security and noted that several Taliban leaders continued to face UN sanctions.

It was also briefed by Davood Moradian, director general of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, who had flown out of Kabul this week. He said the UN system protects “guilty members” who engage in proxy war against their adversaries by using terrorism as a state policy.

“The Taliban and their regional partners particularly...Pakistan should reflect on their principle role in either mitigating or accelerating a catastrophic situation in Afghanistan, an outcome that will determine our decades-old [campaign] against terrorism,” Moradian said.

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