Terrorism is cancer; affects everyone just like pandemic, says MEA Jaishankar

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Updated: Aug 30, 2020 1:30 AM

The external affairs minister said it is for the international systems to create necessary mechanisms to shut down structures supporting terrorism.

"The struggle against terrorism and those aiding and abeting it is a work in progress," he said.“The struggle against terrorism and those aiding and abeting it is a work in progress,” he said. (File image)

States that have turned the production of terrorists into a primary export have attempted to paint themselves as victims of terror, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday, calling for creation of global mechanisms to shut down the structures supporting the menace. In a clear reference to Pakistan, he said international pressure has eventually compelled a state complicit in “aiding, abetting, training and directing” terror groups and associated criminal syndicates to “grudgingly acknowledge” the presence of wanted terrorists and organised crime leaders on its territory. A Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) by Pakistan last week mentioned names of 80 terrorists including Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar. The order was aimed at escaping blacklisting of Pakistan by anti-terror watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

In his remarks at the 19th Darbari Seth memorial lecture organised by The Energy Research Institute(TERI), Jaishankar touched upon a plethora of issues including India’s global outlook, essence of a self reliance (Atmanirbharta), and multilateralism. “Livelihood and innovation should not be sacrificed at the altar of political fashion and commercial convenience. Believe me, our country has enough cards to play if we have the confidence to play them,” he said, talking about economic issues and highlighting the government’s focus on making India self-reliant.

Talking about challenge of terrorism, the external affairs minister said it is a cancer that potentially affects everyone, just as pandemics potentially impact upon all humanity. “And yet, in both cases, globalised focused responses to either challenge have tended to emerge only when there has been sufficient disruption created by a spectacular’ event,” he said. The external affairs minister mentioned about the ‘9/11′ terror attacks as well as the ’26/11’ Mumbai strike and said a range of mechanisms like the FATF have been put in place but rued that the world still “lacks a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, with the membership of the UN still wrestling with certain foundational principles.”

“All the while, states that have turned the production of terrorists into a primary export have attempted, by dint of bland denials, to paint themselves as victims of terror,” he said. At the same time, Jaishankar said sustained pressure through international mechanisms to prevent the movement of funds for terror groups and their front agencies can work, which he said was seen last week. “It has eventually compelled a state complicit in aiding, abetting, training and directing terror groups and associated criminal syndicates to grudgingly acknowledge the presence of wanted terrorists and organised crime leaders on its territory,” Jaishankar said.

The external affairs minister said the struggle against terror and those who aid and abet it is a work in progress. “It remains for the international system to create necessary mechanisms to shut down structures that support and enable terrorism, whether in South Asia or across the globe,” he said. The external affairs minister said the true challenges are more phenomena like terrorism, pandemics and climate change and these are issues which will really test the seriousness of multilateralism. “Unfortunately, there are some who persuade themselves that they can draw the benefits while leaving the risks, threats, and challenges for others to deal with,” he said, without naming any country.

“This is predicated upon a false confidence that such problems can be localised in some regions of the planet, while others stay free from such contagion. As we have seen, this is not possible,” Jaishankar said. He said:”If it took a heinous attack using passenger aircraft as weapons of mass destruction to underscore the age of terror, it has similarly taken a lethally contagious virus to trigger a pandemic that has brought the world to its knees.”

Talking about India’s global approach, he said it is important to emphasise that the country remains global in its outlook, even more so now after the pandemic. “This has been demonstrated repeatedly, whether it is in our medical assistance to 150 nations or humanitarian relief to those societies in distress. The current times, however, do provide an occasion to review the nature and terms of our external engagement,” he said. Jaishankar noted that economically, arrangements based on template of others, have naturally not worked in India’s favour.

“…the time is also ripe for us to revisit the very concept of globalisation. We have allowed it to be defined by interests of a few, who visualise that process largely in financial, trade and travel terms,” he said. “Real globalisation can never be just an aggregate of transactions in these domains. It is an outcome of collaboration and indivisibility,” he added. Jaishankar said the pandemic has helped it refocusing on the existing international system. “It is, in that sense, a unique moment for serious reflection on the state of the world order to which we have become accustomed. India enters the UN Security Council as an elected member in 2021, and joins the Troika of the G20 at almost the same time,” he said. “There could be no better opportunity to work with all those who recognise benefits of multilateralism and are prepared to contribute more to its reform,” he said.

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