Ajit Doval: Countering terrorism is a priority, but financing it is lifeblood

NSA Ajit Doval said Tuesday that terrorism is a “lifeblood” and countering it should be a priority as he hosted Central Asian counterparts in New Delhi to talk about terrorism, Afghanistan, and other regional issues.

Doval talked about terrorism, Afghanistan and regional connectivity projects at the first meeting of India and Central Asian NSAs.

There were NSAs from India, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan there. In New Delhi, Turkmenistan was represented by its ambassador. Meeting was chaired by Doval.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval at Tuesday’s India-Central Asia meeting in New Delhi. (PTI)

The NSAs from India and Central Asia discussed the current Afghan situation and its impact on security and stability, reiterating their strong support for a “peaceful, stable, and secure” Afghanistan, according to the joint communique issued after the meeting. Also, security officials said Afghan territory shouldn’t be used for “sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts”.

Doval said earlier, “Terror financing is the lifeblood of terrorism and we all should prioritize countering it.” In addition, we should ask all UN members not to support entities or people involved in terrorist acts and not to fulfil obligations enshrined in relevant counter-terrorism conventions and protocols.”

The officials said the expansion of terrorist propaganda, recruitment, and fund-raising has serious security implications for the region, so they need a collective, coordinated response.

In counterterrorism efforts, new and emerging technologies are being misused, arms and drugs are being trafficked, terrorist proxies are being used for cross-border terror, cyberspace is being misused to spread disinformation, and unmanned aerial systems are being deployed. From India’s perspective, the mention of cross-border terrorism is a reference to Pakistan.


Diplomacy through dialogue

A high-level security meeting between the NSAs of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan takes place in Delhi for the first time following the India-Central Asia virtual summit in January. India hosted a regional dialogue on Afghanistan last November that included NSAs from Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. As part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the NSAs will meet again in India next year.

To deal with terrorism effectively, the meeting also called for the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to be adopted sooner rather than later.

Security officials reaffirmed the importance of UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021) which says “no terrorist organization, including those designated by UNSC Resolution 1267, should have sanctuary on Afghan soil”.

As the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan deteriorated, the NSAs noted the need to work together to provide assistance.

The meeting condemned terrorism in the strongest terms, and underscored the need for collective action.

In addition to being consultative, transparent, and participatory, Doval said connectivity initiatives need to be transparent. “While expanding connectivity, it’s important to ensure it’s consultative, transparent, and participatory, while respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries,” he said in an oblique reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

In what is interpreted as a tacit endorsement of New Delhi’s views on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the joint communique said connectivity initiatives should be based on transparency and respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He called Central Asia India’s “extended neighbourhood”, saying Afghanistan is an issue that “concerns us all”.

As part of the meeting, Doval stressed the importance of respecting Afghanistan’s sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity.

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