Modi brands Pak ‘ter­ror­ism moth­er­ship’ at BRICS meet

PM es­ca­lates diplo­matic drive to iso­late Pak­istan

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi branded Pak­istan a “mother-ship of ter­ror­ism” at a sum­mit of the BRICS na­tions yes­ter­day, test­ing the co­he­sion of a group whose heavy­weight mem­ber China is a close ally of In­dia’s arch-ri­val. Modi’s re­marks to a meet­ing of lead­ers from the BRICS- which in­clude Brazil, Rus­sia, China and South Africa- es­ca­lated his diplo­matic drive to iso­late Pak­istan, which In­dia ac­cuses of spon­sor­ing cross-border ter­ror­ism.

Ten­sions be­tween the nu­clear-armed neigh­bors have been run­ning high since a Sept. 18 at­tack on an army base in Kash­mir, near the dis­puted fron­tier with Pak­istan, killed 19 In­dian sol­diers in the worst such as­sault in 14 years. In­dia later said it had car­ried out re­tal­ia­tory “sur­gi­cal strikes” across the de facto border that in­flicted sig­nif­i­cant ca­su­al­ties. Pak­istan de­nied any role in the at­tack on the Uri army base, and said the In­dian op­er­a­tion had not even hap­pened, dis­miss­ing it as typ­i­cal cross-border fir­ing.

“In our own re­gion, ter­ror­ism poses a grave threat to peace, se­cu­rity and devel­op­ment,” Modi said in re­marks to BRICS lead­ers who met at a re­sort ho­tel in the western state of Goa. “Trag­i­cally, the mother-ship of ter­ror­ism is a coun­try in In­dia’s neigh­bor­hood,” the 66-year-old prime min­is­ter said, with­out di­rectly nam­ing Pak­istan, in a se­ries of tweets of his re­marks is­sued by the for­eign min­istry. Modi’s hos­tile com­ments were not, how­ever, re­flected in a clos­ing state­ment he read out to re­porters.

“We were unan­i­mous in rec­og­niz­ing the threat that ter­ror­ism, ex­trem­ism and rad­i­cal­iza­tion presents, not just to the re­gional and global peace, sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity,” he said. “But, also to our so­ci­ety, our way of life and hu­man­ity as a whole.” No im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion was avail­able from Pak­istan’s for­eign min­istry. Modi’s pos­tur­ing over­shad­owed the gath­er­ing of a group that was set up to boost eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, and made it pos­si­ble for the na­tion­al­ist leader to present him­self at home as tough on na­tional se­cu­rity.

“Modi is aware that such lan­guage wouldn’t get the con­sen­sus nec­es­sary to make it into the fi­nal com­mu­niquÈ. In­clud­ing it in his speech en­sures it gets wide cir­cu­la­tion any­way,” said South Asia ex­pert Shashank Joshi. The sum­mit achieve­ments were in­cre­men­tal, and in­cluded es­tab­lish­ing an agri­cul­tural re­search in­sti­tute and speed­ing up work on cre­at­ing a joint credit rat­ings agency. Also on yes­ter­day’s pro­gram was an out­reach ses­sion with lead­ers from a lit­tle­known group of coun­tries from the Bay of Ben­gal re­gion whose key at­tribute, from In­dia’s point of view, is that Pak­istan is not a mem­ber.

Lack of strate­gic re­straint

Modi’s hard line on Pak­istan marks a de­par­ture from In­dia’s tra­di­tion of strate­gic re­straint, and New Delhi has won ex­pres­sions of sup­port from both the West and Rus­sia over the army base at­tack. Yet China, a long­stand­ing ally of Pak­istan that plans to build a $46 bil­lion ex­port cor­ri­dor to the Ara­bian Sea coast, has been cau­tious in its com­ments. Modi and Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping held a bi­lat­eral meet­ing on Satur­day evening and ac­counts of their con­ver­sa­tion emerg­ing from both sides pointed to clear dif­fer­ences of opin­ion.

In one re­mark re­ported by the state Xin­hua news agency, Xi said that China and In­dia should “sup­port each other in par­tic­i­pat­ing in re­gional af­fairs and en­hance co­op­er­a­tion within mul­ti­lat­eral frame­works”. The dis­patch went on to re­fer to the South Asian As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion (SAARC). This group­ing in­cludes Pak­istan, which was to have hosted a sum­mit in Novem­ber that col­lapsed after In­dia and other mem­bers pulled out. The fi­nal sum­mit dec­la­ra­tion re­peated ear­lier con­dem­na­tions of “ter­ror­ism in all its forms” and de­voted sev­eral para­graphs to joint ef­fort to fight ter­ror­ism. It did not, how­ever, level any blame over the ten­sions be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan. “So far, we haven’t seen any in­di­ca­tion at all that China is soft­en­ing its pub­lic sup­port for Pak­istan. In­dia did not ex­pect dif­fer­ently,” said Joshi, a se­nior re­search fel­low at the Royal United Ser­vices In­sti­tute in London. — Reuters

GOA: (From left) Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma pose for a group photo dur­ing the BRICS Sum­mit. — AFP

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