NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan have taken their diplomatic war of words global with Pakistan dispatching its emissaries to lobby the world against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticizing Pakistan at the just-concluded Group of 20 summit in Hangzhou, China.
India has targeted Pakistan over its support of terrorist groups (without mentioning Kashmir, which it has always maintained is a bilateral issue), while Pakistan has sought to make Kashmir a global issue.
Twice in the past two days, Modi has slammed Pakistan as the epicenter of terrorism in the South Asian region, without naming the country.
Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup, briefing reporters on the prime minister’s meeting with the leaders of other BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations on Sunday, said Modi urged BRICS members “to coordinate actions to isolate those who are supporters and sponsors of terror.”
The interaction happened at the G20 summit.
According to Swarup, Modi told the leaders that “the terrorists in South Asia or anywhere for that matter do not own banks or weapons factories. Clearly, someone funds and arms them and BRICS must intensify its joint efforts, not just to fight terror but to coordinate actions to isolate those who are supporters and sponsors of terror.”
There was no mention of Pakistan, but the reference was clearly to that country, a close ally of China.
Again, on Monday, Modi used the G20 forum to focus attention on “one single nation” in South Asia that he said is spreading “agents of terror,” amid calls for sanctions against those who sponsor terrorism.
“Indeed, one single nation in South Asia is spreading these agents of terror in countries of our region,” Modi said, lauding a G20 initiative on countering terror financing, pointing out that all countries should meet the Financial Action Task Force standards.
“The growing forces of violence and terror pose a fundamental challenge. There are some nations that use it as an instrument of state policy. India has a policy of zero tolerance to terrorism. Because anything less than that is not enough. For us, a terrorist is a terrorist,” he said.
Modi’s hard-hitting comments aimed at isolating Pakistan in the global arena on terrorism aren’t difficult to understand, coming as they do in the middle of a Pakistani diplomatic offensive to highlight the “human rights situation” in Kashmir.
“There is a big pushback from India and the signal is that we are not leaving the field wide open for the Pakistanis,” said Sushant Sareen, security analyst with New Delhi-based Vivekananda International Foundation, a think tank.
According to a Pakistan foreign office statement on Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s special envoy Syed Tariq Fatemi met Belgian foreign minister and deputy prime minister Didier Reynders and the secretary general in the Belgian foreign ministry, Dirk Achten.
According to the Pakistani statement, Fatemi “voiced Pakistan’s deep concern about the massive human rights violations being committed by Indian security forces” in Kashmir.
“He [Fatemi] urged the international community to play its role in urging India to respect the basic rights of the people” of Kashmir, the statement said.
Last month, Pakistan appointed 22 parliamentarians as special envoys “for fighting the Kashmir cause in different parts of the world”, following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. India says violence in the state is fomented by Pakistan and militant groups that it trains and sends into India, a charge Pakistan denies.