Xiamen (China): In a big win for India’s campaign against terrorism emanating from Pakistan, BRICS countries on Monday named Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad in their joint declaration while calling for a comprehensive approach to combat terrorism.
The 43-page declaration of the 9th summit equated the LeT and JeM — which New Delhi has blamed for terror attacks in India — as well as TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) with the Islamic State and the Al Qaeda and deplored their acts.
Last year, at the 8th BRICS summit in Goa, China had reportedly opposed the inclusion of the Pakistan-backed terrorist outfits in the declaration. China has in the past shielded its “all-weather ally” Pakistan even after Islamabad was pilloried by India, the US and other countries for harbouring terrorists.
The mention of LeT and JeM is seen as a big takeaway for India from this summit as it reflects a shift in China’s stance. But what impact it has on the status of Jaish chief Masood Azhar remains to be seen. Azhar, has been blamed for deadly cross-border terror attacks on Indian military establishments. India had twice moved the UN to declare him an international terrorist but China
Asked if the joint declaration will help India’s case to designate Azhar as an international terrorist, an MEA functionary said: “The declaration has been endorsed by all the BRICS leaders. So obviously it has the approval and endorsement of all the countries.”
Questioned further about China’s mind on the issue, the MEA functionary said: “You should not address this question to me.’’ “We have worked collectively in formulating this document which has gone through a consensus process. So I can tell you that it has been endorsed and approved by all the leaders of the five countries, which is very important.”
The declaration further urged the international community to establish a genuinely broad international counter-terrorism coalition and support the UN’s central coordinating role in this regard.
China mum on Masood Azhar
China said that Pakistan-based terrorist outfits had been included in the joint declaration due to concerns about their violent activities in the region. He, however, skirted a response to a question on whether the naming of JeM marks a change in Beijing’s stand on Masood Azhar. In the last two years, China has stonewalled efforts by India and later by the US, the UK and France to declare Azhar as a terrorist, stating that there is no consensus on the issue.
Modi, Xi will meet today, post Doklam
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold their first substantive bilateral meeting on Tuesday since the Dokalam standoff, which had put ties between the two countries under strain. During the meeting, the two leaders are expected to discuss ways to create confidence building measures. The sense is that both countries want to “move on” after the standoff.