Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said on Wednesday that one of the first steps to fight terrorism is to expose those people who show tolerance towards this global menace. Jaishankar was speaking at the Counter-Terrorism Conference 2016 held at Sardar Patel University of Police, Security and Criminal Justice in Jodhpur.

“Even as we work to advance the prospects of a CCIT (Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism), there are a number of interim steps that can be taken,” Jaishankar said. “The most important of them is to exercise the ability to cause damage to reputation,” he said. 

Jaishankar emphasised the need to relentlessly expose perpetrators or supporters of terrorism and even people who are tolerant towards terrorism. “Naming and shaming must be carried out relentlessly in the case of perpetrators, supporters and connivers of terrorism. Tolerance for double standards on this issue must be equally frankly exposed.” 

He said that eliciting words of solidarity when terror attacks take place and expressions of policy of independent happenings “have a value often underestimated”.

“To do this effectively, it is important that we do not ascribe characteristics to terrorism — whether they be of religion, region or ethnicity,” he said.

Jaishankar’s comments come in the wake of the cross-border attack from Pakistan on an Indian Air Force airbase at Pathankot in Punjab on 2 January this year. Seven Indian security personnel were killed in the attack.

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised that Pakistan needs to take firm action against the organisations and individuals responsible for and linked to the attack, his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif assured him that the Pakistani government would take swift and decisive action against the terrorists.

Jaishankar noted that countering terrorism is a priority imperative for Indian diplomacy. “The role of diplomacy in facilitating intelligence cooperation and building national capabilities cannot be overstated. We have made major strides in putting in place practical cooperation with a number of countries. This is a sensitive and cumulative exercise, of building trust and habits of working together,” he said. 

Speaking on the presence of some international frameworks like the Financial Action Task Force, the Egmont Group and the Al Qaeda, Taliban and the Islamic State (IS) Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council, the foreign secretary said that “these did not provide an effective answer as these did not reflect a unified global response for reasons of national expediency”.

“The first serious attempt to approach terrorism from a regime perspective is our own initiative of tabling a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the United Nations. This was done two decades ago. Interestingly, the initiative has now gathered greater traction as the spectre of global terrorism appears more threatening,” he said. 

Stressing on the key elements of the CCIT, he said that it proposed to list several acts of unlawful and intentional violence that constitute an offence which all parties were required to establish as criminal offences under their domestic laws.

“All parties have to ensure these criminal acts are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature. They are also to prohibit the establishment and operation of installations and training camps for the commission of such offences, he said.

The state party, he said, in the territory of which the alleged offender was present, has to submit the case without undue delay to its competent authorities for prosecution.

“Offences set forth in this Convention shall be deemed to be extraditable offences in any extradition treaty existing between any of the state parties. Any regime, to be effective, must enforce two key concepts: assigning responsibility and ensuring accountability.” 

According to Jaishankar, if actions originating from one country impinge negatively on others, the government of that country, at the very least, should be pressed to probe and explain as the first step in a process of accountability. 

“This holds true for nuclear and missile proliferation, for chemical weapons, for pandemics, and nowadays, even for suspect financial transactions. Why should that not be for countering terrorism?” Jaishankar said.

He said that it is difficult for non-state actors to operate without the support and connivance of states. “If we can move in the direction of a state-centred regime based on strict responsibility and accountability, that would certainly have a major impact on the freedom of non-state actors to propagate, operate and perpetrate,” Jaishankar said.

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