UNITED NATIONS: India has expressed dismay at the failure of the UN Secretary General's report on ISIS to take note of the close links between proscribed terrorist groups such as Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad despite New Delhi repeatedly flagging these concerns.
The '14th report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIS to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat' notes that the security landscape in Afghanistan changed dramatically on August 15, following a Taliban military campaign that took control in the country, including Kabul.
The report says the dreaded Islamic State terrorist group aims to position itself as the chief rejectionist force in Afghanistan, expands into neighbouring Central and South Asian countries and is viewed by the Taliban as its primary armed threat.
Speaking at the Security Council briefing on Threat to International Peace & Security Caused by Terrorist Acts' that took up UNSG report, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said on Wednesday that India has been reiterating the close links between proscribed terrorist entities such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terror groups, including the Jaish-e-Mohammad.
"It is essential that we don't lose sight of the ease with which the proscribed Haqqani Network, with support from their patron state, have worked along with prominent terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda, ISIS-K in South Asia," he said, in a reference to Pakistan.
However, in spite of repeatedly flagging these concerns, the SG's report has failed to take notice of these linkages.
"We hope that in future iterations of such reports, inputs from all member states would be treated on an equal footing and an evidence-based and credible yardstick be applied by its authors," he said.
India has been highlighting consistently the threat of terrorism in its neighbourhood, India's top diplomat to the UN said, asserting that these security fears have been further exacerbated by the changed political situation in Afghanistan.
Tirumurti described the report of the monitoring team as concerning as it highlights that Afghanistan has the potential to become a safe haven for al-Qaeda and a number of terror groups.
The report notes that ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan, is taking advantage of the turmoil in the war-torn country by recruiting fighters from the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement and the Turkistan Islamic Party, among other foreign terrorist groups.
It states that UN Member States have assessed that the strength of ISIS-K has increased from earlier estimates of 2,200 fighters to now approaching 4,000 following the release by the Taliban of several thousand individuals from prison.
One Member State assessed that up to half the individuals are foreign terrorist fighters.
Tirumurti said the report also highlights the near doubling of the strength of ISIS-Khorasan, following the Taliban's release of several thousand individuals from prisons.
In his 12th report, Guterres had highlighted that Shahab al-Muhajir, the leader of ISIS-K, maintained familial ties to the proscribed Haqqani Network as well.
"The report of the Taliban Sanctions Committee recognises the continuation of links between Taliban, especially through the Haqqani Network, and al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in our neighbourhood," he said, in reference to Pakistan.
Tirumurti stressed that the current SG's report raises serious concerns over ISIS's continued attempts to revive itself in its core zone as well as expanding and strengthening its affiliates in several countries of Asia and Africa.
"This is a matter of grave concern," he said.
Noting that the signs of re-emergence of ISIS in Syria and in Iraq call for urgent action by the international community, he said India reiterates that terrorists can neither be defeated by forming alliances with non-sovereign entities nor while pursuing narrow political agendas.
"We need to support regional member states in the implementation of their measures against terrorists and UN-designated terrorist groups," he said.
Tirumurti also voiced concern that in Africa, it is becoming increasingly evident that terrorist groups with linkages to ISIS and al-Qaeda are gaining in strength and have targeted and killed civilians, especially women and children, security forces and UN peacekeepers.
He added that it was heartening to note that countries affected by these terrorist groups are taking measures, both on their own and collectively to counter the threat and stressed that these efforts should be supported by the international community and the UN without any caveats.