In his first address to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar urged the international community to not make false distinctions between “good or bad” terrorists, and called for a “zero tolerance” approach against them. The minister also criticised China and Pakistan for delaying the process of designating individuals and entities as terrorists, and lavishing them with “5-star treatment”.

Jaishankar was speaking at the United Nations Security Council Ministerial Meeting on “Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts: International cooperation in combating terrorism 20 years after the adoption of resolution 1373”. He is the senior-most Indian leader to address the UNSC since India joined the 15-member council this month, according to PTI.

“First, we must all summon up the political will to unhesitatingly combat terrorism,” Jaishankar said at the virtual conference. “There must be no ifs and buts in this fight. Nor should we allow terrorism to be justified and terrorists glorified.”

The minister added that all member states of the United Nations Security Council must fulfil the obligations enshrined in international counter terrorism instruments and conventions.

In an oblique rebuke to Pakistan, Jaishankar referred to states that are “clearly guilty of aiding and supporting terrorism, and wilfully provide financial assistance and safe havens” to them, according to The Hindu. He spoke of “5-star treatment” allegedly given to certain terrorists by Islamabad.

“We, in India, have seen the crime syndicate responsible for the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts not just given state protection but enjoying 5-star hospitality,” the minister said, alluding to underworld gangster Dawood Ibrahim, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

In August last year, Pakistan had included the name of Ibrahim in a list of 88 terrorists, who were subjected to sweeping sanctions, including an assets freeze, arms embargo, and travel ban. This was the first time Pakistan has acknowledged the gangster, the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, as a terrorist. However, Islamabad had denied any acknowledgment on its part of the presence of the fugitive gangster in the country.

Eight-point plan

During his address on Tuesday, Jaishankar proposed an eight-point “ action plan” for the United Nations to be able to “credibly address the menace of terrorism”. He stressed that the link between terrorism and transnational organised crime must be fully recognised and “addressed vigorously”.

The foreign minister emphasised that the international community must not “countenance double standards”. “Terrorists are terrorists; there are no good and bad ones,” he said. “Those who propagate this distinction have an agenda. And those who cover up for them are just as culpable.”

Jaishankar also took an indirect swipe at China, which had repeatedly blocked India’s bids at the UN to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. “The practice of placing blocks and holds on listing requests without any rhyme or reason must end,” he said. “This only erodes our collective credibility.”

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Jaishankar further made a call for “enhanced UN coordination with FATF”. He said the Financial Action Task Force should continue to identify and remedy weaknesses in anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing frameworks.

The minister’s remarks came just as a meeting of the FATF’s Asia Pacific Joint Group got underway to review Pakistan’s performance on countering terror financing and money laundering, according to The Hindu. The group will then send recommendations to the FATF plenary body on whether to continue to keep the country on its grey list next month.