India Seeks UN Role in Lakhvi Release

Third chair at bilateral table?

UNITED NATIONS: India has sought the intervention of the United Nations over the release of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Zaki-ur Rahman Lakhvi, on the grounds that it goes against resolution- 1267 passed by the world body. The resolution deals with designated entities and individuals. 

India has also objected to the bail posted for Lakhvi, which is a violation of the provisions of the UN sanctions committee as he is listed terrorist. The UN Security Council’s sanctions committee has assured India that it will take up the matter of Lakhvi’s release at its next meeting. But critics have questioned the wisdom in India’s move, wondering whether it has just met Pakistan’s long-standing demand to internationalise a bilateral dispute. 

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Asoke Mukherjee has written a letter to the current Chair of the UN Sanctions Committee Jim McLay and pointed out that Lakhvi’s release by a Pakistani court on 9 April was in violation of UN Resolution number 1267, which deals with designated entities and individuals. The Indian envoy has also mentioned that the bail amount provided was against the sanctions’ committee rule which calls for freezing the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of listed terror groups and individuals.

Acknowledging India’s concerns, McLay is reported to have responded to India’s letter and assured that the matter will be discussed at the next meeting of the committee expected to take place in the next few days.

The committee had in December 2008, listed Lakhvi as a terrorist, associated with LeT and al-Qaida for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts of activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” both entities. As a listed terrorist, Lakhvi is subject to assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo. 

The committee said that as chief of operations and military commander of LeT, Lakhvi has directed its operations, including in Iraq and South-East Asia. According to the committee website, “In past years, Lakhvi has played an important role in LeT’s fundraising activities, receiving donations from al-Qaida affiliates on behalf of LeT. He has also managed a training camp in Afghanistan.”

Lakhvi’s release had also raised concerns in the US, UK, Russia, France and Germany with Washington calling for him to be rearrested. Lakhvi, the prime accused in the 2008 Mumbai attacks case, has been on trial since 2009 along with six others- Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum. The Mumbai attack in November, 2008 had left 166 people dead.

However, questions have been raised in some quarters about whether India’s move to approach the UN and seek its intervention is in sync with its decades-old Pakistan policy in terms of third party involvement. Given the fact that India and Pakistan have been at two opposite ends of the spectrum on the role of third parties in their bilateral dispute, critics say India may have unwittingly played into the hands of Pakistan by seeking UN intervention.

The move appears to be all the more baffling, they say, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has consistently castigated India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the tallest leaders of the Congress, for approaching the UN over the issue of Kashmir decades ago. A possible justification of the Narendra Modi government’s move can be that it is a wise move because the UN has always stood with anti-terror policies. Therefore, the UN is the right forum for taking up the Lakhvi issue, critics say. 

Three of the most important points about UN Resolution 1267 are as follows:

– Assets Freeze: freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities.

– Travel Ban: prevent the entry into or transit through their territories by designated individuals.

– Arms Embargo: prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, spare parts, and technical advice, assistance, or training related to military activities, to designated individuals and entities.

Observers say, UN resolution number 1267 is high on rhetoric but low on deliverability. Ever since it was adopted by the UN well over fifteen years ago, precious little has been achieved under this rubric by the international community. The possibility that observers warn against is this- could the move backfire for India by giving a handle to Pakistan in all future scenarios as this is precisely what the Pakistan government has been asking for and India has been opposing: intervention of the UN or any other third party in bilateral issues between India and Pakistan.

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