Pakistan today rejected the BRICS Declaration, which named and shamed terrorist groups operating from its soil, but it should be worried about the language in the document.
The Xiamen declaration says “those responsible for committing, organizing, or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable.” It adds that fighting terrorism is primarily the role of the state.
“Recalling the primary leading role and responsibility of states in preventing and countering terrorism, we stress 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”, the declaration reads.
And that’s why Pakistan had to reject it – even if it wasn’t explicitly named, and even though China had said Islamabad’s counter-terrorism record wouldn’t be discussed at the summit.
Pakistan finds itself increasingly isolated on the world stage, especially after being repeatedly criticised for offering a safe haven to terrorists by the Donald Trump administration in Washington.
So even if the BRICS Declaration didn’t name Pakistan, the bloc’s leaders decided to mention terrorist groups that continue to operate with impunity with the tacit support of Pakistan’s ruling elite.
The message – that Pakistan needed to rein them in – was clear.
Pakistan’s response, of course, was a flat denial. Its defence minister, Khurram Dastagir, said “there are no safe terrorist safe havens in Pakistan,” The Nation reported.
Dastagir repeated the claim that the international community had failed to acknowledge his country’s efforts and sacrifices in the war against terror. He also alleged that it was Afghanistan that was a sanctuary for terrorists.
WIN FOR INDIA
For New Delhi, the strongly-worded BRICS Declaration is a diplomatic win, as the document specifically names Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, groups that perpetrate acts of terror on Indian soil.
They’re mentioned in a passage on the impact of terrorism in Afghanistan. “We strongly condemn terrorist attacks resulting in death to innocent Afghan nationals…. We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir.”
PAKISTAN’S PATRONAGE OF TERRORISM
Khurram Dastagir said whatever remained of the Pakistan-based terror groups listed in the BRICS Declaration would soon be eliminated.
But only last month, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, who’s under house arrest in Pakistan, launched a political outfit: the Milli Muslim League. The party will contest the 2019 general elections.
Saeed, who masterminded the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, is only one of several examples of Pakistan’s patronage of terrorism.
The US and the United Nations declared him a terrorist, and Washington put a $10 million bounty on his head. But he continued to roam free in Pakistan for years.
It was stiff pressure from the US that led to his being placed under house arrest. But as the launch of the Milli Muslim League demonstrates, that hasn’t affected him in any perceptible way.