Naming JeM, LeT not new

Naming JeM, LeT not new

Suhasini Haidar,
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Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the plenary session of the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Fujian province, China on Monday. Photo: AP

The BRICS declaration at Xiamen, that included a paragraph on terror has been hailed as a major shift of China’s policy of protecting Pakistan based groups. However, experts point out that the reference to the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is not a first for Beijing, and must be reinforced by a bilateral commitment on terrorism during the meeting between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected on Tuesday.

In particular, officials say they hope the BRICS statement will translate into China removing its block on designating the JeM chief Masood Azhar as a U.N. Security Council sanctioned terrorist when its current hold on the process at the UNSC expires on November 1 this year.

Beyond statements

“It is obvious that China’s new role in the region, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leadership, has given it new responsibilities, and it is significant that this shift also comes post-Doklam. It is to be hoped that they will go further than the statements, however,” said former diplomat Amar Sinha, a key official involved in drafting last year’s BRICS declaration in Goa, and the one at the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar, both of which China attended.

Monday’s statement says that with regard to the violence in Afghanistan that the BRICS countries, “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.” (Paragraph 48 of the BRICS declaration at Xiamen)

Earlier efforts

Last year’s BRICS conference in Goa had seen a major tussle over including the names of Pakistan-based terror groups and the term “cross-border terrorism” in the wake of the Uri attacks. Admitting that they had not been successful in having the specific names of groups added to the statement apart from that of the Islamic State, officials at the time had said they were “satisfied” with the final consensus.

However, two months later, at the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar, India had attempted a different line during negotiations on the joint text, which was signed by 14 countries including China and Pakistan, naming groups that attack security forces in Russia, China, India, Pakistan and others. The resultant declaration had the same language used in the BRICS declaration on Monday.

“We remain concerned by the gravity of the security situation in Afghanistan in particular and the region, and the high level of violence caused by the Taliban, terrorist groups including ISIL and its affiliates, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaida, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, East Turkistan Islamic Movement, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Jundullah and other foreign terrorist fighters,” it said. (Para 14, 6th Ministerial Conference on the Heart of Asia, Amritsar)

Officials involved in India’s multilateral counter-terrorism efforts say they hope the BRICS statement will be seen as a progression in China’s stand, but point out that it has been 16 years since China and other UNSC countries designated the Jaish-e-Mohammad and more than a decade since the Lashkar-e-Taiba was similarly designated, but real action against the groups and their leadership is still awaited.

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