United Nations: In a clear reference to Pakistan providing safe havens to terror groups, India has told the UN that the international community needs to urgently address the backing outfits like the Haqqani Network, LeT and JeM draw from their "shadowy supporters" outside Afghanistan.
"Experience, as well as academic research, provides ample support for the assertion that conflicts in which foreign assistance is available to shadowy entities that fight legitimate state authorities tend to be more severe and last longer than other types of conflict," India's Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said in a Security Council session on the situation in Afghanistan.
Without naming Pakistan, Akbaruddin said sustainable peace in Afghanistan is contingent upon terror groups and individuals being denied safe havens in the country's neighbourhood and the international community must address the issue of the support that terror outfits like the Taliban and al-Qaeda get from their supporters outside Afghanistan.
"If we are to bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan, groups and individuals that perpetrate violence against the people and the government of Afghanistan must be denied safe havens and sanctuaries in Afghanistan's neighbourhood," he said.
"We need to address, as an imperative, the support that terrorist organisations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Daesh, al-Qaeda and its designated affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed which operate entirely outside the fabric of international law draw from their shadowy supporters outside Afghanistan," Akbaruddin said at the United Nations on Monday.
He pointed out to the meeting in the 15-nation Council that it is apparent that efforts by nations for rebuilding institutions, infrastructure and networks in Afghanistan are being "undermined, schools are being destroyed, mosques bombarded and religious gatherings targeted".
"It is also evident that those who perpetrate these heinous crimes have survived and thrived only with support and sanctuaries on the outside," he said, in a veiled but strong reference to Pakistan.
Akbaruddin noted with concern that while the international community recommits to standing by the Afghan people each time the UN members discuss the situation in the war-torn country, the number of Afghan civilian and security forces casualties keeps rising.
"While the Taliban sanctions regime remains split for more than five years, the designated terrorist group makes concerted effort to capture and hold territory. Therefore, for numerous Afghan women, men and children there is no respite from the plague of terrorism," he said.
The Indian envoy emphasised that the international community must introspect about the way it is approaching the situation in Afghanistan and whether there is need for course correction.
"We need to ask ourselves whether what we are working on in Afghanistan is the wrong thing to be working on, or whether we are working on it in the wrong way. Since we all agree that supporting the people of Afghanistan is not the wrong thing, then the questions we need to ask ourselves should be related to our ways of going about it. What do we mean when we say we stand with the Afghan people? Are we doing it right? What is it that we are missing out on," Akbaruddin said.
He said the international community also needs to send the right message that it will neither "roll over in the face of terror" nor allow the "roll back" of the achievements of the people and government of Afghanistan in the last decade and a half.
Referring to the 'Heart of Asia' ministerial meeting on Afghanistan held earlier this month in Amritsar, Akbaruddin said a key focus during India's co-chairmanship of the process was to bring to centre-stage the importance of connectivity for Afghanistan.
"A well-connected Afghanistan will be economically vibrant, prosperous and politically stable. A well connected
Afghanistan will have great potential to engage the energies of its youth and attract its talents back from foreign lands," he said.
Akbaruddin underscored the connectivity that terror networks have established needs to be replaced by that of roads, trade networks and ideas for peace and prosperity, as he drew upon an old adage that what one sows bears fruit and so one should not "plant anything but peace"....