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Russia hand in BRICS terror rap on Pak

Sachin Parashar

Russia has hailed the Xiamen BRICS Declaration and its naming of Pakistan-based terror groups as a victory for countries concerned about terrorism in South Asia. Despite it being seen as defending Pakistan from US pressure on the issue, Moscow’s position on Islamabad has been quite nuanced. Official sources here confirmed Russia worked actively to convince China to drop its opposition to namechecking the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM).

The naming of these terror groups was seen by Indian officials as a major diplomatic breakthrough in Xiaman as Beijing had stalled all such attempts by both Russia and India during the BRICS Summit last year.

“We expect the declaration to lead to more concrete action against terrorist organisations,“ top Russian diplomat Sergey Karmalito told TOI.

The next logical step for India is to get Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar proscribed by the UN. China has continued to block all attempts to include Azhar in the UNSC sanctions list.

Indian officials are now hoping that Moscow will be of help to New Delhi in convincing Beijing to give up its opposition to the ban on Azhar too. According to diplomatic sources, Moscow is of the view that on the limited issue of Azhar, China may, in the near future, relent.

“Beijing knows it has limited bargaining power with Azhar. NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) and CPEC of course are different issues,“ said a source who did not wish to be named.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier this year publicly appealed to Russia to convince China to support India’s NSG membership bid, but Moscow is not hopeful of a breakthrough any time soon. However, while there are concerns here about Moscow’s attempts to engage Taliban in the Afghanistan peace process, Russia is also trying to involve India more in that process.

This is evident, as sources said, from a proposal by Moscow that President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov visit India soon. The visit could take place in October.

Kabulov is not the most popular Russian figure in India, with some of his comments on peace and stability in the region seen here as a sign of Russia’s growing strategic embrace of Islamabad. After US President Trump attacked Pakistan while announcing his new Afghanistan policy , Kabulov said putting pressure on Pakistan would only further destabilise the region.

While Kabulov recently denied US allegations that Russia was giving military aid to the Taliban, he also said there was a stalemate in Kabul’s conflict with Taliban, and that, in this situation, it was necessary “to make the most active efforts to search for ways to launch the intra-Afghan dialogue“. With the Taliban now controlling almost 45% of Afghan territory, Moscow believes it’s impossible to keep them out of any dialogue for sustainable peace. Times of India courtesy .

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