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EDITORIAL: Violent transnational extremists as well as nationalist supremacists target innocent people yet those in the latter category are not made to pay a price for their crimes. The anomaly was highlighted by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Munir Akarm in the UN Security Council, which met recently to review global cooperation in combating terrorism in the 20 years following the 9/11 attacks in the US. These violent extremist supremacist groups, he said, pose a clear and present danger to regional peace and security. It becomes even more dangerous when such groups are backed by states. As ambassador Akram explained, the violent extremist ideology of Hindutva practiced by the ruling BJP and its ideological fountainhead, the RSS, has been posing an existential threat to the 180 million Muslims of India, the Delhi violence of February 2020 being a manifestation of that ideology.

Indeed, there are neo-fascist groups in many other countries, but they remain largely confined to the fringes. What is alarming in the case of India is that these people are encouraged to attack members of minority communities, mainly Muslims, by hate mongering speeches of the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi - who presided over the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom as the chief minister of Gujarat - and other leaders of his party. BJP/RSS activists have killed several Muslims on mere suspicion of eating cow meat. In last year’s Delhi violence that went on for a whole week 52 people, an overwhelming majority of them Muslim, were killed and their homes and businesses destroyed. An Amnesty International report later said that the violence was sponsored and orchestrated by the ruling BJP through its acolytes and the police that functions under Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The rights organization expressed the regret that “not a single political leader who made hate speeches advocating violence in the build-up to the riots was prosecuted.” That though was unsurprising. The ruling BJP/RSS combine, of course, was not going to prosecute their own.

The international community must act to rein in these terrorists. To that end, Pakistan’s envoy proposed several important measures, including that states should designate acts of such violent nationalist groups as terrorism, just as has been done in the case of Al-Qaeda/ISIS and their affiliated groups; initiate immediate domestic action to prevent the propagation of violent ideologies, their recruitment and financing; ask Secretary-General to present a plan of action to confront and defeat these violent extremists and their ideologies; and expand the mandate of the Sanctions Committee to include violent nationalist terrorist groups, like the RSS. Considering, however, that most of the veto-wielding major powers are busy pursuing their own interests with India, they are likely to continue turning a blind eye to violent Hindutva groups whose ideologues not only propagate ethnic absolutism but also expansionism - a threat Ambassador Akram pointed to when he said violent supremacists pose a clear and present danger to regional peace and security.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021