‘Zero tolerance for terrorism...’: India takes aim at Pakistan at UNSC debate
India on Tuesday took aim at Pakistan for impeding efforts to improve security and development in Afghanistan, with external affairs minister S Jaishankar calling for zero tolerance for cross-border terrorism and full transit rights for the war-torn country.
Jaishankar didn’t name Pakistan in his statement at a UN Security Council debate on the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan, but there was little doubt which country he was referring to IN his remarks.
While calling for a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire to end a surge in violence, including targeted attacks on women, minorities and civil society activists, Jaishankar said India will welcome any move towards a genuine political settlement in Afghanistan.
“For enduring peace in Afghanistan, terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries must be dismantled immediately and terrorist supply chains disrupted. There needs to be zero tolerance for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its cross-border one,” he said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.
“It is equally important to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan is not used by terrorist groups to threaten or attack any other country. Those providing material and financial support to terrorist entities must be held accountable,” he added.
Durable peace in Afghanistan, Jaishankar said, requires “a genuine double peace” or peace within and around the country. The world community, he added, must deliver on its commitments to Afghanistan to ensure development and reconstruction.
“For Afghanistan’s economic development, it is important to have unhindered access to the high seas. The international community should work towards the removal of artificial transit barriers imposed on Afghanistan and ensure full transit rights guaranteed to Afghanistan under bilateral and multilateral transit agreements without any hindrance,” he said.
Pakistan has barred the movement of Indian goods through its territory to Afghanistan while allowing Afghan exports to India, despite strong objections from the government in Kabul over the years. To overcome such transit and transport-related problems, India has launched several air trade corridors between Afghan and Indian cities and developed Iran’s Chabahar port as an alternate access point to Afghanistan.
New Delhi’s growing concerns over a recent surge in violence across Afghanistan, largely blamed on the Taliban, also figured in Jaishankar’s comments. He noted the UN secretary-general’s latest report on the situation in Afghanistan had made it clear the intra-Afghan talks hadn’t resulted in a reduction of violence.
“On the contrary, violence has only increased, especially after May 1. The country has been witnessing targeted attacks on religious and ethnic minorities, girl students, Afghan security forces, ulemas, women occupying positions of responsibility, journalists, civil rights activists and the youth,” he said.
“It is, therefore, crucial that the international community and in particular, this council, presses for a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire to ensure immediate reduction in violence and protection of civilian rights,” he added.
India has backed all efforts to accelerate dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban, but if the peace process is to be successful, it is “necessary to ensure that the negotiating parties continue to engage in good faith, eschew the path to find a military solution, and fully commit towards reaching a political solution”, Jaishankar said.
“I would like to reiterate our support for an inclusive Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process. Any political settlement in Afghanistan must ensure that the gains of the last two decades are protected and not reversed,” he said, adding the constitutional and democratic framework must be preserved.
Jaishankar also highlighted India’s recent steps to support Afghanistan during the transition period, including more than 550 community development projects covering all 34 provinces, an MoU for building the Shahtoot Dam to provide drinking water to Kabul, and the supply of 75,000 tonnes of wheat through Chabahar port to ensure food security amid the Covid-19 pandemic.