Porlamar: Hitting out at Pakistan, India on Sunday said "one country" in its neighbourhood scuttled its proposal of setting up a working group on counter-terrorism within the NAM even as the final draft declaration of the bloc's summit strongly condemned terrorism and vowed to combat the scourge. The final draft declaration of the 17th Non-Aligned Movement summit at Porlamar in Venezuela also strongly pitched for decisive and coordinated action to prevent and combat the financing and illicit transfer of weapons.
The NAM Summit draft declaration reiterated that terrorism constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. Hence, the 120 NAM countries reaffirmed their firm
condemnation of terrorist acts in all forms and manifestations, whatever their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever they are committed.
"They further condemned the destruction of cultural heritage and religious sites, as well as the commission of crimes against humanity by terrorist groups, among others, on the basis of their religion or beliefs," the draft that will be adopted as the 'Margarita Declaration' said. "The way the NAM works is on consensus so we have to have consensus among all countries but that said we have been able to get references to terrorism (put in the declaration) which are purely and largely language suggested by India," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin, who is in this city of Margarita Island to take part in the deliberations of NAM, told reporters at a briefing.
Asked about the working group on terrorism within NAM that India had proposed, Akbaruddin, without naming Pakistan, said there was "one country in our neighbourhood who did not allow consensus to be reached on this matter".
However, he said this was an issue Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has now put further on the agenda, saying that he will in his presidency outline this as one of his priorities. "At this stage that (working group) is not reflected (in the draft declaration) as it could not gain consensus despite having support of the overwhelming majority but NAM rules provide for certain ways in arriving at decisions and it is regrettable that it did not happen because of issues you are well aware of," he told reporters.
According to the draft declaration, the NAM countries recognised the threat posed nowadays by this "despicable scourge", particularly the activities carried out by terrorist groups such the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and its affiliated entities, Jabhat Al Nusra, Boko Haram and Al Shabbaab, and other entities designated by the UN.
Earlier, sources had said that Pakistani representative Tasneem Aslam alone spoke against the working group proposal and opposed the consensus that had built around the proposal which had the support of a large number of NAM delegations. "Despite being isolated, Pakistan continued with its objections to stall the proposal emphasising that there could not be a consensus on terrorism," the sources said.
The draft declaration also noted that the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters and the spread of violent extremism can be conductive to terrorism, making it necessary for states to prevent and combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing and the illicit transfer of weapons, in a decisive and coordinated manner, with strict adherence to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, as well as other obligations under international law.
In this regard, the NAM countries also considered that the adoption of a future Comprehensive Convention for Combating International Terrorism could complement the set of existing international legal instruments, including the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. In addition, they reaffirmed that terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group, and that these attributions should not be used to justify terrorism or Contreras measures that include, inter alia, profiling of terror suspects and intrusion on individual privacy.
Significantly, Vice President Hamid Ansari, also made a strong anti-terror pitch at the NAM Summit in Porlamar. Ansari, who is leading the Indian delegation at the NAM Summit in the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said terrorism is one of the "most egregious sources of human right violations today" and its use as an instrument of state policy is to be unequivocally condemned.
The time has come "for our movement to recognise the need for concrete action in the fight against terrorism", Ansari said while addressing the plenary meeting of the bloc. "We need to establish a mechanism within our movement that will ensure effective cooperation in combating terrorism, that is the main threat to security, sovereignty and development," he said.
Akbaruddin, in the briefing, pointed out that even President Maduro in his opening statement acknowledged the need for combating terror. He said another area of interest to be reflected in the
draft declaration was the reform in the UN. "This reform is (not only) reform of the various structures of the UN but also (of) its working methods and all. Again there is some language which reflects that the UN should reform itself as well as the Security Council should reflect the realities of today because many of us think it is not reflective of the global realities at present today," Akbaruddin said.
A third issue to be reflected in the draft, he said was sustainable development that follows from the Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted last year. "Our idea was to highlight terrorism as a growing and important challenge to the whole world and NAM countries because most of the victims of terrorism are members of NAM countries and NAM is usually been associated with trying to address new challenges," Akbaruddin said.
"Therefore we felt that it will be useful to have a platform where NAM members can coordinate and cooperate and take this forward in terms of what is a major threat to all of us and therefore our suggestion was to have a platform, that platform could perhaps be a working group," he said.
"We did suggest this and we must say that we were extremely satisfied with the sort of response we got because there were countries from not only Asia – all our neighbouring countries bar a few exceptions – were in full support who spoke out. Several African countries spoke out saying that they see this as a major threat and the suggestion was very good. Latin American countries also did speak out," Akbaruddin said.
In fact this was the theme on which largest number of countries supported and articulated their views that they would want this as a suggestion to be reflected, he added.