India has called upon the UN Security Council to act decisively against the widening arc of terrorism that has struck Paris, Beirut and Syria while the links between the Islamic State and extremists in Afghanistan and elsewhere are tightening.
“We urge the Security Council to act against this threat to international peace and security with a sense of urgency and within a defined time-frame,” India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji told the UN General Assembly Monday during a debate on the situation in Afghanistan.
“The first step the Council should undertake is to strengthen the Council’s Sanctions Regime structure, in order to effectively impose and implement the restrictions placed on the listed terrorist organisations, so as to deny them sanctuaries and safe haven,” he said.
The Security Council’s failure to act against Pakistan for providing a sanctuary for anti-India terrorists and for releasing on bail Lashkar-e-Taiba’s 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi has been a sore point for India.
The growing violence in Afghanistan between the Taliban and the Islamic State along with its affiliates was an “alarming” development, he said, citing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s report on the situation in that nation.
In particular he drew attention to Ban’s report that most of the Islamic State-affiliated fighters in Afghanistan are made up mostly of “disaffected former members of the Afghan Taliban, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or groups previously associated with Al-Qaeda.”
In view of these developments and the rising tide of terrorist violence around the world, the international community should rethink the time table for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Mukerji said.
In a reversal of policy, President Barack Obama announced in October that the United States will keep its troop strength at 9,800 through next year, but will reduce it to about 5,500 by the time he leaves office in January 2017.
Calling India “Afghanistan’s first strategic partner”, Mukerji spoke of the close bilateral ties between the two nations and expressed regret over restrictions on transit.
“Afghanistan will be able to achieve its optimal economic potential only if it is allowed freedom of transit to major markets in South Asia,” he said. Without naming Pakistan, he added, “We regret that this freedom continues to be denied to Afghanistan.” Islamabad has blocked direct access to India for trucks bringing Afghanistan’s exports.
“India has opened its markets to all Afghan exports, and is willing to receive Afghan trucks on its territory,” Mukerji said. “India remains committed to greater regional integration, and is open to join and support all such regional initiatives, including the expansion of the Afghan Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement.”