External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said the key conspirators of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks continue to remain "protected and unpunished" even today.
When it comes to sanctioning terrorists, the United Nations Security Council has been "regrettably" unable to act in some cases because of "political considerations", he said, in an apparent swipe at China which has blocked the UNSC sanction of Pakistan-based terrorists on several occasions.
The minister was delivering inaugural address at the special meeting of the UNSC's Counter-Terrorism Committee on 'Countering the Use of New and Emerging Technologies for Terrorist Purposes.
The first leg of the event is being held at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, one of the targets of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The second leg will take place in New Delhi on Saturday.
"Terrorism may have plagued several regions of the world, but India understands its cost more than others," Jaishankar said.
"But with that experience comes the steeling of national resolve. Decades of cross-border terror has not and will not weaken our commitment to fight back. We must rise above our political differences to address this scourge. The battle against terrorism must be fought resolutely at all fronts, all situations and all places," he added.
“While one of the terrorists (Ajmal Kasab) was captured alive, prosecuted and convicted by the highest court in India, the key conspirators and planners of 26/11 terror attacks continue to remain protected and unpunished," Jaishankar said.
It was an attack not only on Mumbai but the international community, he further said.
"In fact, this entire city was held hostage by terrorists who had entered from across the border," he said without naming Pakistan while paying respect to the victims of the 26/11 terror attack.
As many as 140 Indian nationals and 26 citizens from 23 countries lost their lives in the attacks, he noted.
Jaishankar, Gabonese Foreign Minister and president of the UNSC Michael Moussa-Adamo along with others paid respects on this occasion to the victims who lost their lives in the 26/11 terror attacks.
In a recorded message, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said his country lost six of its citizens during the 26/11 terror attack and it stands in solidarity with India and all nations that lost people on that day.
“We have the responsibility to the victims and the people everywhere to bring justice to the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks and their masterminds. That's what the United States is working to do together with India and other partners for 14 years because when we allow the architects of these attacks to go unpunished, we send a message to terrorists everywhere that their heinous will be tolerated,” he said.
Many members of the Security Council, including the United States, have adopted its sanctions against the terrorists behind these attacks, he said.
“But the efforts are more effective when we act together. Which is why we work with India to put forth nominations to designate several terrorists to the UN 1267 committee. All relevant parties should support these designations. No nation should stand in their way,” he said in an apparent reference to China.
Speaking at the event, Wang Yanhua, Vice Counsul General at the Consulate of China in Mumbai, said terrorism knows no borders and countries should work together to counter it. At the same time, it is important to respect the leading role of all countries in combating terror financing and avoid mutual accusations and politicising technical issues, she said.
Jaishankar, in his inaugural speech, said that all acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation.
"Money is the life blood of terrorists. Terrorist organisations require funds and resources to maintain their organisational function and undertake activities," he said, adding that curbing finance for these organization is a major aspect of fighting terrorism.
"Normative efforts" to counter terrorism at the UN need to be coordinated with collaboration through other forums like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Egmont group, Jaishankar said.
"Objective and evidence-based proposals for listing of terrorists groups, especially those that curb their access to financial resources must be seen through," he said.
International cooperation and concerted action against terrorists and their sponsors including through dismantlement of terrorist safe havens, sanctuaries, training grounds and financial, ideological as well as political support structures are critical imperatives to defeat this scourge, the minister said.
Terrorism's nexus with transnational organised crime, illicit drugs and arms trafficking is well-established and it is important to recognise these linkages and strengthen multilateral efforts to break them, he added.