After the Xiamen declaration

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Continuing in a state of denial would harm Pakistan

 

Let there be no doubt about it. The BRICS’ resolution on terrorist networks is a serious matter. So far only the US, India and Afghanistan had publicly accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorist groups. Now the same view has been expressed by the BRICS countries albeit in a polite but unambiguous language. What should worry Pakistan is that even China – which had repeatedly blocked India’s attempts to have the JeM leader Masood Azhar put on a UN Security Council blacklist – has signed the resolution. There is a likelihood of Beijing not stalling the resolution next time it is tabled in UNSC. The five countries have agreed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist organisations that also include Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), JeM, and Haqqani network. BRICS countries have for the first time jointly named militant groups allegedly based in Pakistan as a regional security concern and called for their patrons to be held to account.

 

There is a need to realise why one country after another is repeating the charge. Emerging from a meeting of the National Security Committee, Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir has however rejected the Xiamen Declaration. Last week FO had rejected Trump’s allegations of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan. In a highly undiplomatic move Khwaja Asif had told the Senate that Pakistan was suspending talks with the US in protest. Will the Foreign Minister who had earlier planned to visit China and Russia delay these visits also in protest? While the FO has been more cautious in its reaction to the Xiamen declaration, and recognised the terrorist danger faced by South Asia, it named all the terrorist networks mentioned in Xiamen declaration except JuD, JeM and Haqqani group.

 

A policy that fails to convince even a close ally like China is of no use. There is a need to strengthen the role of the FO in formulating a realistic policy that can convince the world at large. The large team of capable career diplomats at the foreign ministry’s disposal has the capacity to hammer out sensible policy options after receiving inputs from all stakeholders. The government should however have the final say in policy making.