For the first time, Pakistan-based terror groups like the LeT and the JeM were named today for causing violence in the region by the BRICS Summit that also asserted that those responsible for committing, organising or supporting terror acts must be held accountable. I n a significant diplomatic win for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was joined by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Michael Temer and South African President Jacob Zuma in strongly denouncing terror activities of such groups, as they expressed determination to collectively fight the scourge. The 43-page ‘Xiamen Declaration’, adopted at the end of the five-nation BRICS plenary, stressed on the need for immediate cessation of violence in Afghanistan.
It expressed “concern” over the security situation in the region and the violence caused by the Taliban, ISIS, al-Qaeda and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Hizb ut-Tahrir. Significantly, the ETIM is active in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China and seeks to establish a separate “East Turkistan”. At the ninth Summit of the grouping, the BRICS leaders also condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever. They stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism.
“We reaffirm that those responsible for committing, organising, or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable,” the statement said. Highlighting the primary leading role and responsibility of states in preventing and countering terrorism, the grouping emphasised on the necessity to develop international cooperation, in accordance with the principles of international law, including that of sovereign equality of states and non-interference in their internal affairs. According to officials, Modi raised the issue of terrorism strongly at the BRICS Summit and was joined by other leaders, who expressed willingness to fight this menace. “For the first time specific listing of terror organisations has been made (in the BRICS declaration),” Secretary (East) in the external affairs ministry Preeti Saran told reporters.
The inclusion of Pakistan-based terror groups in the declaration is also significant as it indicated a slight shift in the Chinese view towards terror groups operating out of Pakistan. Ahead of the BRICS Summit, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson had said, “We noticed that India, when it comes to Pakistan’s counter-terrorism, has some concerns. I don’t think this is an appropriate topic to be discussed at the BRICS Summit.” During the last BRICS Summit in Goa, China did not allow the inclusion of Pakistan-based terror groups in the declaration despite the fact that the Summit was taking place within weeks of the Uri terror strike carried out by a Pakistan-based militant group. However, now it is to be seen that after being part of such a strongly-worded declaration on terrorism and indicting Pakistan-based terror group JeM, how China will act towards the designation of Jaish’s chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.
After the declaration was issued, the Chinese foreign ministry today parried questions on any change in its stand of blocking Azhar’s banning by the UN. Currently, China has put a hold on the proposal to ban Azhar moved by the US and some other countries at the UN’s Sanction’s Committee.
The declaration referred to terrorism at least 17 times, apart from mentioning other forms of extremism and radicalisation. During the BRICS Summit here, India also offered to host a conference on countering radicalisation. Talking about India’s position on terrorism, Saran told reporters, “Terrorism is a scourge that has to be addressed collectively by the entire international community. And, I think, increasingly there is a realisation that you cannot have double standards in tackling this scourge.”
“You cannot have good and bad terrorists. It is a collective action,” she said. Saran said that prime minister Modi also raised the issue of speeding up the long-pending UN Security Council reforms during the Summit. The BRICS countries also called upon all nations to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism. They said that the approach should include “countering radicalisation, recruitment, movement of terrorists including Foreign Terrorist Fighters, blocking sources of financing terrorism including, for instance, through organised crime by means of money-laundering, supply of weapons, drug trafficking and other criminal activities, dismantling terrorist bases, and countering misuse of the Internet including social media by terrorist entities through misuse of the latest Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).”
The BRICS leaders conveyed their commitment to prevent and counter the growing spread of terrorist narratives, and to tackle all sources, techniques and channels of terrorist financing. They also recalled the responsibility of all states to prevent financing of terrorist networks and terrorist actions from their territories. “We call for swift and effective implementation of relevant UNSC Resolutions and the FATF International Standards worldwide. We seek to intensify our cooperation in Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs),” the BRICS declaration said. The BRICS also strongly deplored the nuclear test conducted by North Korea.
“We express deep concern over the ongoing tension and prolonged nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, and emphasize that it should only be settled through peaceful means and direct dialogue of all the parties concerned,” the BRICS said. The declaration also lauded July meeting of BRICS high representatives for security issues for having discussion and deepening common understanding on global governance, counter- terrorism, security in the use of ICTs, energy security, major international and regional hotspots as well as national security. It also noted Brazil’s proposal to set up a BRICS intelligence bank.