Now that the dust has settled down on the planned, and then cancelled, meeting between the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of India and Pakistan, one can calmly and rationally analyse the reasons for and assess the loss/gain arising from the cancelled meeting. However, one must be clear about few things before one can proceed further on the analysis. The first is that the Indian position that the NSA talks were about terrorism was absolutely correct. A simple reading and understanding of the English language makes that amply clear. The second is that India not only set out some preconditions for the meeting, but set out an additional pre-condition that Pakistan should accept these preconditions as not being pre-conditions. To be more specific the following was the exchange that took place at the media briefing by the Foreign Minister:
प्रश्न (ग़ीता मोहन) Question (Geeta Mohan): Ma’am, the red lines have been drawn. No talk barring on terror and no meeting with the separatists. Pakistan has not given an assurance yet. If Pakistan does not give assurance the talk would go ahead?
विदेश मंत्री श्रीमती सुषमा स्वराज (Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj): Then talks will not be held. I have answered thrice this question. I have answered thrice अगर उनका जवाब हाँ में है, अगर वो आज कहते है हाँ सुषमा जी आपने यह clear कर दिया प्रि-कंडिशन नही है, यह तो एक शिमला समझोता की स्पिरिट है और दूसरी उफा की, ठीक है मै आता हूँ, आईए । लेकिन अगर वो कह रहे कि नही हम तो अभी भी इसको प्रि-कंडिशन मानते है या हम नही इस चीज़ को मानते है तो बातचीत नही होगी।
(Translation: …if their answer is a ‘yes’, if they say today that Sushma ji you have made it very clear that these are not preconditions, then this is in the spirit of the Simla Accord and the Ufa statement, so fine, I will come; we welcome them. But if they are saying that we still regard this as a precondition or that we do not agree with this, then there will be no talks.)
India having arrested or put under house arrest all the separatist leaders, there was no reason for seeking an assurance from the Pakistan NSA that they will not meet the separatists. Taking a cue from the popular movie Kung Fu Panda, wherein the Kung Fu master tells the panda that he is free to eat if he can get hold of the food, the Pakistanis were free to meet the separatists if they could get hold of them! Having cleared this, with both sides seemingly bent on cancelling the meet, overall who gained and who lost?
With talks being limited to terrorism, India with a strong dossier on specific persons and groups with addresses and telephone numbers with travel records, had a decisive advantage over the Pakistanis who did not, and who in any case could not have produced such a detailed dossier on the alleged Indian hand in terrorism in Pakistan. That would have been to Pakistan’s disadvantage.
Dawood Ibrahim is listed in the Al-Qaida sanctions List. Persons listed in the Al Qaida sanctions list are subject to all the sanctions measures mandated by the UN Security Council through its various resolutions starting with UNSC 1267(1999). One of these measures pertains to assets freeze. This requires the Member States to take appropriate measures, in accordance with domestic laws and practices, to ensure that no funds, financial assets or economic resources are made available directly or indirectly for the benefit of those listed in the sanctions list.
The Security Council Committee pursuant to its resolutions concerning Al-Qaida and Associated Individuals and Entities, constituted a committee known as the “Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee”, also known as the 1267 Committee. This Committee is supported in its work by an Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team (the ‘Monitoring Team’), which is composed of independent experts, appointed by the Secretary-General, with expertise in counter-terrorism, financing of terrorism, arms embargoes, travel bans and related legal issues. The Monitoring Team assists the Committee in evaluating the implementation of the sanctions regime by Member States. In its latest report of June 2015, the Monitoring team had the following to say about asset freeze:
“in cases in which the current locations of the listed individuals are known and they are not imprisoned, it is difficult to understand how they can operate without any exempted finances. How do they eat? How do they pay for accommodation or, if they own property, cover utility expenses alone?
Under such circumstances, a legitimate question to ask is whether the State of residence is properly and fully implementing the Al-Qaida sanctions obligation. If the State of residence is allowing expenditure in breach of the assets freeze, without pre-notifying the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, that could constitute a breach of the obligations under the Al-Qaida sanctions regime.”
India has now ample documentary proof to establish that Dawood Ibrahim has multiple residential properties in Pakistan, maintains the establishments at all these addresses including all the necessary utility facilities. If in spite of extensive documentation made available to the Pakistan Government through various channels, including official bilateral discussions on terrorism, Dawood Ibrahim is able to sustain his activities in Pakistan, it can only be because of availability of funds which should have been blocked/frozen by the Pakistan government. India has a strong case for projecting to the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee that Pakistan government’s inaction in this respect constitutes a breach of its Obligations under UN charter.
Had the NSAs’ meeting taken place, India could have presented the documentary evidence to the Pakistan Government and later to the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. It was not in Pakistan’s interest that the NSA meeting should take place. It is to their credit that they managed to do that by waving a red flag at the Indians through their first briefing on the planned NSA talks by mentioning their invitation to the Hurriyat leaders for a meeting in Delhi prior to the NSA talks. India took the bait and the rest is history.
The main gainer from the cancelled talks was Pakistan.
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India