ISLAMABAD/Lahore - Pakistan Monday wondered at India’s celebrations over BRICS’ naming some alleged Pakistan-based terror networks that are already on country’s list of banned outfits.

Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the annual summit of BRICS leaders with an aim to underline Beijing's claim to developing-world leadership.

The member states — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — gathered in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen hoping to counter accusations the grouping was becoming irrelevant.

The summit, which called for reform of the United Nations and tougher measures against terrorist groups, however was upstaged by North Korea's latest nuclear test – with all participants condemning it and expressing serious concern over the tense situation in and around the Korean peninsula.

Importantly, the Xiamen Declaration - issued after the moot - deplored "all terrorist attacks worldwide" and condemned terrorism "in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever and stress that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism".

"We express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and its affiliates, including the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Hizbut Tahrir," it added.

The statement said nations should unite to fight the groups in accordance with the principles of international law, but emphasised the importance of not interfering in the sovereign affairs of individual states.

Indian officials and media tried to sell mention of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) among the terrorists groups as a diplomatic defeat for Pakistan, ignoring the fact that Islamabad regards these groups anti-peace entities and had declared them proscribed organizations years ago.

India has been blaming these two organizations for a number of terrorists activities committed over years on its territory and asking Pakistan to clamp down on them - claiming that both the organistions were based in Pakistan and operating with unannounced support from its security establishment – a charge denied by Islamabad.

As for the Haqqani network, the Pakistan Armed forced have already uprooted this militant organization from its tribal territory along the Afghanistan border in massive operations launched against terrorist groups of all hue and colour.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan was not shocked reading the BRICS summit’s statement as Islamabad had already banned those networks for direct or indirect involvement in terrorism.

“India is unnecessarily celebrating. There is nothing to celebrate. Their attempts to discredit Pakistan will fail,” said a senior official at the foreign ministry.

He said that Beijing had assured Pakistan that it would never support India against Pakistan.

“India cannot take away China from us. We have talked and they [China] remain committed to support[ing] us,” the official added.

Indian propaganda

“For the first time (in a Brics declaration), there has been a specific listing of terror organisations,” Preeti Saran, joint secretary (east) in the external affairs ministry, told a media briefing.

Saran said Modi had mentioned the need to jointly fight terror at the restricted session of Brics leaders on Monday morning. The Indian PM proposed a mechanism to fight spreading radicalisation and added that India could host an international conference on the issue, she added.

Saran did not respond to a question on whether the naming of JeM as a terror group by Brics would lead to its chief, Masood Azhar, being sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

Hindustan Times called bracketing LeT and LeJ with global terror groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda as a “significant diplomatic win in India’s efforts to counter cross-border terrorism”.

“Getting China - in China - on board in a statement that refers to Pakistan-based terror is important since they had resisted the same at last year's summit in Goa,” NDTV declared on its website.



Nothing to celebrate about

A number of Pakistani and Indian experts said this does not signal any big difference in Beijing's policy on Pakistan, one of its closest allies.

A former diplomat based in Lahore said the declaration was positive as, instead of vilifying any state on the wish of another state and singling out any country for censure, the declaration condemned almost all key terrorist elements without any discrimination that pose threat to peace in the region.

He pointed out that the statement also mentioned TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), the terrorist group which has carried out most of the attacks inside Pakistan and which Islamabad claims of having proof that it is being supported by Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies.




“No change” in China policy

Responding to India’s propaganda, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told [news agency] Press Trust of India that BRICS countries have "shown their concerns to the violent activities raised by these organisations".

"These organisations are all sanctioned by the UN Security Council and have a significant impact for Afghanistan issue," Geng told PTI in a written response.

A foreign ministry official told The Nation that the word “TTP” was used in the declaration on the insistence of China to keep the word “Pakistan” out.

China had last week ruled out any discussions on Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen. Beijing said it would not be an appropriate topic to be taken up by the group.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif will visit the regional countries – beginning with China – on September 8 to discuss the foreign policy and the future strategy.

The tour of the important regional countries comes after US President Donald Trump’s anti-Pakistan speech last month.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the summit, and will hold talks with President Xi Jinping of China on September 5 (today), their first meeting, after the prolonged Doklam standoff ended.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the BRICS countries had “shown their concerns to the violent activities raised by these organisations.”

This is the first time that a BRICS declaration has named alleged Pakistan-based terror groups.

The UN had banned Jaish in 2001.

China made a distinction between the group and its chief Masood Azhar and has repeatedly blocked efforts by India at the United Nations to designate the Masood Azhar a terrorist.

Earlier in the day, South Asia Director-General Dr Mohammad Faisal summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces in Chirikot Sector --- Kakuta, Nullah and Polas villages - on September 2nd resulting in the death of an eight years old girl, Momina, resident of village Polas.

“Despite calls for restraint, India continues to indulge in ceasefire violations. In 2017 to date, Indian forces have carried out more than 700 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary, resulting in the death of 30 innocent civilians and injuries to 113, as compared to 382 ceasefire violations in 2016,” said a statement released by the foreign ministry.

“The deliberate targeting of civilians is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity and international human rights and humanitarian laws,” it added.

The director general urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 Ceasefire arrangement; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC, the statement said.

He urged that the Indian side should permit the UN to play its mandated role as per the Security Council resolutions, it added.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday said that persecution of Rohingiya, Kashmiri, Palestinian and Muslim minorities was a collective failure of religious and political leadership of the Muslim world.

In a tweet, Asif said: “Pakistan is host to more than three million Afghan refugees, a legacy of proxy war.”


Pakistan wonders at India’s jubilation


Shafqat Ali/News Desk