India said on Wednesday that the global community must not lose sight of the ease with which the Haqqani Network and its supporters, "especially the Pakistani authorities", have worked along with terror groups in South Asia as it asserted that the UN chief's report on the Islamic State should also cover activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad that perpetrate attacks from "safe haven" in Pakistan. The UN Security Council held a briefing on 'Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts' and considered the 12th report of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the threat posed by ISIL (Da'esh) to international peace and security.
The report has said that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan (ISIL-K) is currently assessed to have between 1,000 and 2,200 fighters in Afghanistan spread across several provinces and is expected to continue to target Kabul and provincial capitals in future attacks. Shihab al-Muhajir, announced as the group's new leader in June 2020, reportedly heads ISIL operations in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and States in Central Asia. He is said to have had an earlier affiliation with and to maintain familial ties to the Haqqani Network, the report has said.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said that the UNSG's report provides an account of activities of ISIL-K, including the appointment of its new leader al-Mujahir, who has close links with the proscribed Haqqani Network and earlier operated in the Af-Pak region as an al-Qaeda commander. "It is essential that we don't lose sight of the ease with which the proscribed Haqqani Network and its supporters, especially the Pakistani authorities, have worked along with prominent terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda, ISIL-K, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, etc. in South Asia," Tirumurti said in his strongly-worded speech that hit out at Pakistan.
"Al-Qaeda, Haqqani Network, JeM and LeT continue to flourish and operate with impunity in the Af-Pak region, he said. India is of the view that the UNSG's periodic report on ISIL "should also cover activities of the proscribed terrorist entities under ISIL and al-Qaeda Sanctions regime like Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Pakistan based terror groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad and frontal organisations that raise funds for their activities. Tirumurti asserted that exclusion of these Pakistan-based terror outfits from the report, which is prepared by the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, does not give a complete view of the situation in the South Asian region.
"The world is fully aware that these groups also perpetrate terrorist activities from safe havens in Pakistan, including through violent attacks in Afghanistan that have disrupted the peace process," Tirumurti said. He added that the world is witnessing the relocation of terror groups to Afghanistan especially in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces, across the Durand line. "To not name them in this report is doing a disservice as it gives only a partial and a biased view of the situation in the region.
Tirumurti said the Secretary General's periodic report on ISIL, prepared in close collaboration with the Office of Counter-Terrorism and other United Nations entities and international organisations, is an "important tool" for member states to reflect on the threat posed by ISIL and strategize a collective approach towards global terrorism. As Tirumurti conveyed India's sincere condolences to all countries, including its immediate neighbour Afghanistan, which continues to suffer from cross border and international terrorism, he said the current report on ISIL reiterates the necessity of a forceful and decisive global fight against terrorism.
"The report makes it amply clear that despite its territorial defeat, ISIL (Da'esh) activities are on the rise, and its presence and activities are affecting significant parts of Africa, beyond its core area of operations in Syria and Iraq," he said. The COVID-19 pandemic has further negatively resulted in terrorism getting a fillip across the world, he said, as easy access to new and emerging technologies, including drones, virtual currencies, encrypted communications, and artificial intelligence (AI) has enabled ISIL and other terrorist groups to adapt to the pandemic-affected world and exploit current conditions to their advantage. "These new methods have resulted in greater freedom and tactical autonomy to ISIL affiliate," he said.
"The modus operandi of ISIL has also changed, as is evident from the lone wolf attacks occurring in Europe. This changed and reinvigorated ISIL poses a new set of challenges to our collective efforts in our fight against ISIL and terrorism." Tirumurti told the briefing that for the UN system to effectively address the threats posed by terrorists, the Council should seriously re-consider implementing the eight-point action plan outlined by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at the UNSC Ministerial Meeting last month.
The action plan had called on the international community to summon the political will and not justify terrorism and not glorify terrorists, there should be no double standards as terrorists are terrorists and no good or bad distinction should be made. "It is imperative therefore to collectively build on these principles in ensuring that we are able to defeat the scourge of terrorism for good," Tirumurti said.