By Vamsi Polamarasetty
Many leading brains in academia and political analysts observed that the Xiamen declaration marked a major shift in China’s past policy towards major terrorist organisations, which are sworn to burn India to ashes. The rationale for this view was, China too had endorsed the fact that organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) are a hindrance in establishing peace in the South Asian region. Therefore, they were enlisted as terrorist organisations in the Xiamen declaration, and BRICS member nations condemned the brutal activities carried on by them, mainly in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in India. China, prior to this summit, was reluctant to accept India’s view, even when LeT had shown defiance towards India by declaring “Water Jihad” against it. However, it completely changed its stance and stood alongside India in a joint BRICS declaration.
Pakistan and terrorism
Terrorism has always been an integral part of Pakistan’s aggressive foreign policy, particularly with regard to its neighbouring countries. Even lately, Donald Trump has shown his indifference towards Pakistan’s attitude and blamed it for providing safe havens to terrorist organisations. There are several accusations against Islamabad for extending its hand to JeM and LeT. In spite of listing LeT as a terrorist organisation in Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP) on Terrorism, LeT continues to thrive within the borders of Pakistan.
LeT chief, Hafiz Abdul Saeed had been kept under house arrest numerous times in the past but eventually freed, based on judicial pronouncements in the country. His house arrest can be linked with Pakistani government’s restless efforts to protect him since a $10 Million bounty was announced by U.S government on Saeed in 2012. Saeed’s successive triumphs against the Pakistani government on terrorism charges raised pertinent questions about the government’s commitment to combating terrorism.
This also reflects that some sections within the Pakistani government and military continue to endorse their support to Saeed behind the scenes. While Saeed continues to remain under governmental protection, his brother-in-law, Hafeez Abdul Rehman Makki took the leadership of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD). He is actively conducting rallies on Pakistan soil in support of Saeed and orchestrating Pakistani youth to unleash terror on innocent Indians. In one of the recent JuD’s meetings that were held in Lahore in the name of a new organisation named, Tehreek-e-Azadi, Makki stated that “Cutting our trade relations with India and attaining freedom from Indian aggression is our major goal .”
The ground reality
The real motives behind Islamabad’s supposed hard stance on Hafeez Saeed were nothing but to showcase Pakistan as an active combatant against terrorism and playing its part to achieve international and universal goals. LeT has already been placed on the list of Terrorist organisations by the Sanctions Committee set up by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) video resolution 1267. As a result, there were several sanctions imposed against it. In spite of these sanctions, LeT continues to receive funds from its parent organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawah and collecting charity funds from the public through Tehreek-e-Azadi.
Therefore, China voicing LeT as a Terrorist organisation will not bring any substantial gains to India. The recent news of Hafeez Saeed, going to contest for public office is alarming. Pakistan has always played double standards and the world is not going to view a paradigm shift with regard to this in near future. China too may have aligned with Islamabad and sent false, disguised signals in 2017 Xiamen declaration.
XiamenDeclaration aiding China and Pakistan
China’s true intention on the changed policy will be made visible when India moves a resolution in the UNSC 1267 Committee declaring Masood Azhar as an international terrorist. Even if China throws its weight behind India and gives its assent to resolution, it is to be seen whether even Masood Azhar enjoys a safe haven in Pakistan similar to Hafiz Saeed. China did not agree to the verdict passed by Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in 2016 on South China Sea issue, in spite of being a signatory to United Nations Convention on Law of Seas (UNCLOS). Therefore, while Pakistan is walking in the footsteps of its new big-brother—China—India cannot fully expect Islamabad to uphold the international laws and conventions.
However, on another side of the coin, it is clearly visible that the Xiamen declaration could bring mutual gains to Pakistan and China. The joint declaration also notes East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as a terrorist organisation. This will enhance and strengthen China’s claims of persecuting a large number of Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang province of China. In one of the reports given by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) in 2015, nearly 250 Uyghurs were killed by the Chinese government in one year alone. These extra-judicial killings are likely to see a surge in the near future, thanks to the Xiamen declaration.
Further, Pakistan also wants to highlight Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as a terrorist organisation at international level. It views Xiamen declaration as a first step to exhibit to the world TTP’s connections with Indian and Afghanistan intelligence agencies. Earlier on several occasions, such as 2014 Peshawar school attacks, Pakistan blamed India for supporting TTP in carrying out these attacks, but at the end of the day, this criticism did not gain international attention due to lack of evidence. Therefore, through Xiamen, Islamabad aims to recoup its narrative and resurface it on international platforms. By doing so it also wants to show herself as the victim of terrorism. Also, the credibility of China’s concerns about terrorism can only be viewed as strong ones, if it would have condemned the sponsors of terrorism too.
The near future will provide us with a holistic view about the true intentions of China in the Xiamen declaration. Every nation wants to sweep terror from the face of the earth and it is high time that China realises this goal. As the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres remarked in a recent General Assembly meeting, “We are a world in pieces, we need to be a world at peace”. Therefore, it is imperative that we should uproot the radicalism in all forms and ensure that it is not sponsored at any cost. Mere words will not be enough in realising this goal. These words should be carried in spirit and turned into actions.
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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