At the Heart of Asia (HoA) summit which concluded on Sunday in Amritsar, Pakistan was well and truly cornered for promoting terrorism. Its isolation can be understood from the fact that for the first time, a HoA declaration named the Pakistan-based terror outfits, Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, as forces that are working to destabilise the region. This is a severe indictment of Pakistan, since not only do the two organisations operate from Pakistani soil but they also get overt and covert support from the establishment, especially from the Army there.
India could not get a similar mention in the Goa Declaration of Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping recently, primarily because of opposition from China and also due to the lukewarm response New Delhi’s effort received from its traditional friend, Russia. This time, however, China was the missing factor and Russia was muted. The inclusion of Pakistan-based terror groups is even more significant given that the HoA meet also had the participation of Iran, which had been supportive of Islamabad in the past years on not just the Kashmir issue but in general terms as well over any India-Pakistan fracas. Clearly, the region is fed up of Pakistan-sponsored terror. The frustration and anger spilled over in dramatic ways at the Amritsar meet when Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani named and shamed Pakistan in front of the distinguished audience, including representatives of Pakistan led by its de facto Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz. In what should have embarrassed any self-respecting nation, Ghani said (directly addressing Aziz), “Pakistan has generously pledged $500 million for reconstruction of Afghanistan. This fund, Mr Aziz, could very well be used for containing extremism, because without peace, any amount of assistance will not meet the needs of our people.” He also made the telling point that if the Taliban did not have sanctuary in Pakistan, they would not last for even a month. Kabul’s disillusion with Pakistan is complete. It is worth recalling that in the weeks after taking office, President Ghani had gone to the extent of visiting the military headquarters in Pakistan to seek the Army’s cooperation in fighting terror. He has come a long way since then. After realising the double-game Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been playing, he has begun to appreciate India’s position and align himself even more closely with New Delhi.
India has every reason to be satisfied with the HoA outcome. It finally got the mention of Pakistan-based terror outfits in an international declaration. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, representing the host nation, naturally and quite correctly, did not directly name Pakistan for its nefarious role in spreading terrorism in the region. But he left none guessing when he said that there must be a joint resolve to not just fight the terrorist organisations but also those who “support, shelter, train and finance them”. There is no dispute that New Delhi’s diplomatic initiatives have been paying off. We saw that happen more recently when Pakistan had to call off the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) meeting scheduled there, because a majority of the member-states refused to participate, in protest against Pakistan’s patronage to terrorist groups.
Courtesy: The Pioneer