India and Pakistan were involved in a bitter exchange on Jammu and Kashmir at the NAM summit with Islamabad calling New Delhi’s actions illegal, immoral and unethical and India, in turn, describing Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism.
India has mostly avoided directly referring to Pakistan on international fora, even while talking about cross-border terrorism, but Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu named the neighbour, calling it the contemporary epicentre of terrorism.
Describing terrorism as the most potent threat to not just international peace and security but to also all the principles of NAM, Naidu regretted that Pakistan had used the forum to justify once again its long-standing policy of conducting cross-border terrorism against its neighbours. Pakistan President Arif Alvi had earlier said at the summit that the steps taken by India recently to revoke the special status of J&K were “draconian measures (which) found no parallel in this age and time”. He said the attempt to link the “legitimate struggle” of the Kashmiris with terrorism had run its course.
Naidu said India spoke for the larger region while expressing its deep concern over Pakistan’s behaviour. “All of us in NAM are focused on meeting our developmental goals and aspirations. Pakistan clearly needs to do much more to earn the confidence of the international community. It must decisively abjure terrorism — for its own good, for that of its neighbours and for the good of the world,” he said.
In his speech, Naidu said terrorism’s capacity to inflict damage has multiplied with the diffusion of information technology, giving terrorist organisations offensive cyber capabilities.
“The only way to fight this menace is to strengthen and implement, without exception, all existing international laws and mechanisms to combat terrorists and their enablers,” he said, adding that there cannot be any justification for violent extremist ideologies and terrorist actions.
“I call upon all our NAM partners to come together to forge a common front against terror in all its forms. We must do this by stepping up inter-agency coordination, exchanging information, and strengthening the existing legal framework by endorsing the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) proposed by India in 1996. All this is really possible when we have a clear commitment to zero tolerance towards terrorism,” Naidu said.
India had proposed CCIT in 1996 to further strengthen the existing legal frameworks. In the absence of an international consensus on how to define terrorism, CCIT has seen little progress.