NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday continued to define Pakistan as the hub of terrorism, telling BRICS leaders’ meeting in Goa that India’s neighbour was the mother ship of the problem.
He obliquely disputed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s apparent reluctance to pin the blame on Pakistan, but the Chinese leader responded by seeking political solutions to the hotspots. Indian reports interpreted the reference to hotspots as including the dispute between India and Pakistan over held Kashmir.
“There must be no distinction based on artificial and self-serving grounds,” said Mr Modi, a day after President Xi remained firm on blocking India’s bid to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar designated as an international terrorist by the United Nations.
President Xi, in his 10-minute speech, did not hold back. In an apparent reference to India-held Kashmir, he talked about the need to find a “political solution” to “regional hotspots”.
Russian president doesn’t mention it at all
He also called for concrete efforts and multi-pronged approach that addressed both “symptoms and root causes” to global challenges like terrorism — an argument that mirrored Pakistan’s position on Kashmir, local reports observed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his remarks, did not mention terrorism at all.
With the differences between India and China out in the open — against the backdrop of Delhi’s attempts to isolate Islamabad — the Goa declaration stopped short of mentioning the Uri attack. “We strongly condemn the recent several attacks against some BRICS countries, including that in India,” it said.
However, there were five specific paragraphs on terrorism in the 109-para declaration, in which the BRICS members called upon all countries to work together to “expedite” the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UNGA “without any further delay”.
India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had impressed upon his BRICS counterparts to put it back on the agenda, as it had been dropped in the Ufa declaration of 2015. CCIT had been mentioned in the BRICS statement in 2014.
The sessions on Sunday began with Mr Modi targeting Pakistan and calling it the “mother ship” of terrorism, weeks after India called Pakistan the “Ivy League of terrorism” at the United Nations.
“In our own region, terrorism poses a grave threat to peace, security and development. Tragically, the mother ship of terrorism is a country in India’s neighbourhood. Terror modules around the world are linked to this mother ship… BRICS must speak in one voice against this threat,” he said at the inaugural session of the summit.
A couple of hours later, while making the country’s statement at the BRICS leaders’ session, he took on both Pakistan and China, reports said. “Our response to terrorism must, therefore, be nothing less than comprehensive. And we need to act both individually and collectively. Selective approaches to terrorist individuals and organisations will not only be futile but also counter-productive. There must be no distinction based on artificial and self-serving grounds,” he said.
His comment on “artificial and self-serving grounds” was interpreted as indication of India’s disappointment with the Chinese leadership over the Masood Azhar issue. China recently put a “technical hold”, once again, on designating Azhar — accused in the Pathankot attack in January this year and the parliament attack in 2001 — as an international terrorist at the UN.
“Criminality should be the only basis for punitive action against the individuals and organisations responsible for carrying out terrorist acts. Terrorist funding, their weapons supply, training and political support must be systematically cut off,” Modi said.
President Xi in his turn said: “We need to confront global challenges together. We, BRICS countries, share a common future. We are not only a community of convergence interest, but take concerted actions and make progress together. It is imperative that we step up coordination and communication on major international issues and regional hotspots and act in concert to find political solution to hotspot issues and take on such global challenges like natural disasters, climate change, infectious diseases and terrorism.”
“While speaking with one voice in calling for greater international input, we should also address issues on the ground with concrete efforts and multi-pronged approach that address both symptoms and root causes,” said the Chinese president. Indian reports saw in it a line voiced by Pakistan’s establishment.
While Mr Modi wrapped up the proceedings saying that the BRICS leaders were unanimous in their view about terrorism, the statement was strongly-worded — but did not name the Uri attack, which Delhi wanted mentioned, reports said.
Also, it did not mention any of the specific terror groups or use the phrase “cross-border terrorism”.