Indian quest for convention on international terrorism

At the recently concluded United Nations General Assembly session, India has urged countries to reach an agreement on Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) — a treaty she proposed in 1996 that intends to criminalise all forms of international terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporters access to funds, arms and safe havens.

With CCIT, India tried to achieve; a) a universal definition of terrorism that all 193-members of the UNGA will adopt into their own criminal law, b), to ban all terror groups and shut down terror camps c)to prosecute all terrorists under special laws d) to make cross-border terrorism an extraditable offence worldwide.

The proposed CCIT was as Pakistan-centric as India wanted to deprive Kashmiris of the moral, political and diplomatic support they were getting from Pakistan in their legitimate liberation struggle against India. Secondly, Indiawants to blur the lines between a legitimate freedom movement and international terrorism by portraying the Kashmiri struggle as a foreign funded and orchestrated separatist movement being run through non-state actors.

Indian strategists and policymakers took full advantage of the post-9/11 scenario, pressurising Pakistan to shun alleged support to Kashmiri militants by linking Kashmiri liberation movement with international terrorism

The CCIT remains deadlocked, mainly due to opposition from the US, the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), and the Latin American countries.

All three have objections about the “definition of terrorism” and seek exclusions to safeguard their strategic interests. For example, the OIC the wants exclusion of national liberation movements, especially in the context of Israel-Palestinian conflict and Kashmir. The US wanted the draft to exclude acts committed by military forces of states during peacetime.

India on the other hand wants the world to unite against terrorism ‘without making any distinction between individuals and nations’.

India and Israelhave convergence over the CCIT as both face a grave challenge of militancy and want to suppress liberation struggles of Kashmiris & Palestinians respectively. During Modi’s visit to Israel July this year, both countries stressed that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever and asked for ‘strong measure against terror groups and their sponsors.’

India wants to isolate Pakistan by linking it with international terrorism. It also wants to divert international attention from the gross human rights violations in Indian held Kashmir where it uses state oppression, pellet guns included, to suppress the Kashmiri liberation struggle. In 2016, the Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that the Indian quest for world agreement over CCIT is part of an Indian strategy to isolate Pakistan as it would give “legal teeth to prosecute terrorist acts.”

India doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan or India for that matter don’t have any international obligations to surrender an alleged criminal to each other. This denies India the opportunity to prosecute the likes of Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar under its own law. India wanted to overcome such legal lacunas through CCIT.

Ever since terrorist incidents in Pakistan have been reduced, it is continually raising the Kashmir issue on all international forums, including the UN, with a renewed vigour and zeal that always irks India 

In the aftermath of 9/11, the world and the US in particular were not ready to make any distinctions between a liberation movement and terrorist organisation. Indian strategists and policymakers took full advantage of the post-9/11 scenario, pressurisingPakistan to shun alleged support to Kashmiri militants by linking Kashmir liberation movement with international terrorism. India benefited the most from the new regional and international situation as it succeeded subsiding the insurgency in held Kashmir.

With the situation consolidated at home, India adopted a so-called ‘offensive defense’ strategy by using the disgruntled militants from Pakistan as a foreign policy tool to pressure Pakistan busy fighting the American war on terror at its soil. India successfully enhanced its influence in Afghanistan under US occupation in a bid to open a new front at Pakistan’s western flank. A proxy war against Pakistan was waged though non-state actors. All this was admitted publically by the Indian national security advisor Ajit Doval who calls this strategy the ‘offensive defense’. The convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s confessional statement is also testimony to the Indian involvement in Pakistan from Afghanistan.

Pakistan was a key US ally in the War on Terror, notwithstanding the US always suspected it for its covert support to Afghan Taliban fighting the US occupation in Afghanistan. In a bid to force Pakistan to stop its alleged support for Afghan Taliban, a Pakistan version of the Taliban called ‘Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’ (TTP) was created from the militants on the run from Pakistan due to military operation. The terrorists were trained, equipped and launched from the safe havens in Afghanistan to wreak havoc in Pakistan. Pakistan lost more than fifty thousand people including military & other law enforcement agencies personnel and over USD 126 billion in economic losses. Despite loses, Pakistan was able to quell insurgency as the Pakistani military launched various operations in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) and Swat that broke the backs of terrorists. The capture and conviction of the Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav involved in subversive and terrorist acts in Pakistan was a landmark achievement of Pakistani intelligence that exposed Indian involvement in Pakistan.

Ever since terrorist incidents in Pakistan have been reduced, it is continually raising the Kashmir issue on all international forums, including the UN, with a renewed vigor and zeal that always irks India at the international forums. This was evident during the recently concluded UNGA session where the Indian minister for external affairs got off-balance at the Pakistani Prime Minister’s mention of the Kashmir issue in his speech.

The recent indigenous uprising against the Indian occupation in Indian-held Kashmir after the killing of a Kashmiri youth in 2016 and the world attention towards the Indian atrocities has forced India to hide behind the convention on international terrorism and implicate Pakistan in international terrorism.

India will not be able to divert the world’s attention from the longstanding issue of Kashmir by playing a blame-game against Pakistan or by hiding behind the CCIT. Both India and Pakistan will have to sit on the negotiating table to resolve their issues peacefully to bring about durable peace in the region.


The writer is a journalist & analyst based in Islamabad. He tweets at @kashifaliraza& can be reached at



Published in Daily Times, September 29th 2017.