External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday criticised Pakistan for portraying itself as a victim of terror while grudgingly acknowledging the presence of wanted terrorists and crime leaders on its territory due to sustained international pressure.
Jaishankar didn’t directly name Pakistan in his remarks while presiding over the Darbari Seth memorial lecture. He described the 9/11 terror attacks in the US and the Covid-19 pandemic as “stand-out moments that disrupted the trajectory of human society”.
Nineteen years after the 9/11 attacks and 12 years since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the world has a range of mechanisms to counter terrorism, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), several UN sanctions committees and the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate, he said. However, it lacks a comprehensive convention on international terrorism as members of the UN are still “wrestling with certain foundational principles”, he added.
“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 also as victims of terror,” Jaishankar said, a clear reference to Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
“But as we have seen last week, sustained pressure through international mechanisms to prevent the movement of funds for terror groups and their front agencies can work. 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,” he said.
Weeks ahead of an expected assessment of Pakistan’s counter-terror financing regime, Islamabad issued two notifications on August 18 to enforce UN Security Council sanctions on hundreds of terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim. One of the documents listed three addresses in Karachi for Ibrahim, wanted by India for his role in the 1993 Mumbai bombings.
After the issue was widely reported in the Indian media, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement the notifications didn’t amount to “Pakistan admitting to the presence of certain listed individuals on its territory”.
Jaishankar acknowledged the “struggle against terror and those who aid and abet it is a work in progress”. He said, “It remains for the international system to create the necessary mechanisms to shut down the structures that support and enable terrorism, whether in South Asia or across the globe.”
The world, he said, also faces a structural challenge in improving the global architecture used to fight pandemics. In similar crises over the past century, the outbreaks occurred in remote sites or the monitoring systems managed to head off a crisis. “This time, however, the international warning systems, reporting protocols and response mechanisms were unable to prevent the spread beyond ground zero,” he said.
This has highlighted the need for a more enlightened and responsive multilateral system, and a “new, inclusive and non-transactional approach to multilateralism”, he said. “The reform of international organisations is not merely desirable but imperative. We need to modernise the international system, step by step, to make it fit for purpose, beginning by making each entity relevant to the age in which we live, not when it was created,” he added.
This will require revisiting membership and structures of control, reorienting operational principles and rules, and rebuilding resourcing channels of key pillars of multilateralism, Jaishankar said.
Strengthening skill sets and creating a better enabling environment are the goals of the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” campaign since India can make a difference at the global level only by scaling up its capacities, he said.
The spirit of local action for global outcomes is reflected in India’s work with France to create the International Solar Alliance, whose framework agreement has so far been ratified by 67 countries, and the launch of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, Jaishankar said.
The memorial lecture was delivered by UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, who said India has all the ingredients for exerting leadership at home and abroad. He added the drivers are poverty alleviation and universal energy access – two of India’s top priorities.
“Scaling up clean energy, particularly solar, is the recipe for solving both. Investments in renewable energy, clean transport and energy efficiency during the recovery from the pandemic could extend electricity access to 270 million people worldwide – fully a third of people that currently lack it,” he said. He added, “These same investments could help create nine million jobs annually over the next three years.”