‘Mother-ship of terror’

As anticipated, the Goa Declaration at the end of the two-day Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit adopted a strong position on terrorism. It called for a “comprehensive approach in combating terrorism” and “blocking sources of financing terrorism and movement of terrorism, including foreign terrorists”. There is some dismay in Indian circles that the declaration did not specifically mention Pakistan-based terror groups, Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which have caused havoc particularly in the South Asia region. It was unrealistic to expect such a mention, given that China would never have allowed it. Indeed, according to media reports, there had been efforts to include the name of the two terror organisations, but Beijing was unwilling to go along. This doesn’t come as a surprise, since China, blinded by its friendship with Pakistan, has been foiling India’s attempts to persuade the United Nations to name Jaish chief Masood Azhar a designated terrorist. Even so, the declaration is clear enough about Pakistan, without mentioning it. Brics countries did “strongly condemn the recent several attacks against some Brics countries, including that in India”. The world knows where the attackers came from and who funded, trained and patronised them. India, on its part effectively used the forum to dwell on the subject, and ensured that the issue of terrorism remained centre-stage.
While he did not call out Pakistan by name, Prime Minister Narendra Modi left none guessing when he said, “Tragically, its (terrorism) mother-ship is a country in India’s neighbourhood”, and added, “Terror modules around the world are linked to this mother-ship.” Twisting the knife further, Modi remarked, “This country shelters not just terrorists but also mindsets.” The Prime Minister later used The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) forum to reiterate India’s position and lash out at Pakistan. He said, “Terrorism has become its favourite child, and the child in turn has come to define the essential nature of its parent.” We can be certain that all of this will be water off the duck’s back as far as China is concerned. And yet, even Beijing cannot rubbish the truth, even though it will continue to brush the matter under the carpet for as long as it can.
What then is the way forward for New Delhi to convince China? There is no guarantee of success, but India will have to continue engaging its powerful neighbour. Nobody in New Delhi expects Beijing to dump its ‘only real ally’ in the world, but the hope is that China will see beyond its friendship with Islamabad and take correct positions on matters of terrorism. China has had problems of terrorism in the recent past, and there is no saying that it will remain unaffected by the free agents roaming in the region, armed to the teeth by Pakistani authorities – both state and non-state. India and China share a robust economic relationship (though skewed in China’s favour) and, despite the festering border dispute, they have managed to move forward. This should help in resolving the terrorism matter. Meanwhile, India must continue with its aggressive diplomacy to keep exposing Pakistan in various international forums.

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