Setback for Pakistan, LeT, JeM declared international terrorist groups by BRICS

LeT

The latest BRICS summit in Xiamen, China came as a major setback for Pakistan with all five countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – unanimously designating Pakistan-based terrorist groups – Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) – as terrorist outfits. This was a big blow for Pakistan because so far Beijing had refrained from explicitly calling those groups terrorists to safeguard its self-interests with Pakistan. However, for India, this came as a huge win because for years India has been trying to get these groups outlawed internationally and it was always China that came out in favor of Pakistan by not condemning these groups.

This was always a big wedge in Sino-Indo ties as China always remained silent regarding terrorism directed at India from Pakistani territory because of various geopolitical factors. This is a major step in jointly working on counter-terrorism in South Asia. A combined statement released at the BRICS conference on Monday pointed out security related threats in the region and called out the Islamic State (IS), the Taliban, Al Qaeda and its aligned groups like the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Haqqani network, LeT, JeM, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)  and Hizb-ut-Tahrir as terrorist outfits.

Out of these groups the LeT, JeM, IMU the Haqqani network, ETIM and the Taliban all have links with Pakistan’s intelligence and military services. The Haqqanis have even been described by US officials as a “veritable arm of the ISI”.  This recent declaration will put a further cloud on continued Pakistani sponsoring of these groups, especially after US President Donald Trump’s warnings. How it affects future Sino-Pakistan relations is still a matter of speculation because how China came over to the Indian side on the question of terrorism after the Doklam standoff so soon is kind of baffling. China after being made to pull back from Doklam would need something concrete done to project Chinese soft power, especially on a summit on Chinese soil, so maybe by showing that China will be tough on Islamic extremism, it can have something to show during its Central Committee meeting this year.

Supporting this assumption is Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Priti Saran’s statement, “The BRICS leaders called for greater efficiency in the designation of terrorists and terror groups by the United Nations Committee on terrorism.” This would now possibly lead to the UN Security Council (UNSC) being able to declare JeM leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist which was always put on a “technical hold” by China using its veto power in the UNSC 1267 committee to support its relationship with Pakistan. The joint statement, without any ifs and buts, condemned “all terrorist attacks worldwide”.