Editor : Satish Ohri    Edition : December 2017

Modi uniting Nations against Terror

Ever since he assumed office as the Prime Minister on May 26, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on an ambitious plan to bring the international focus on fighting terror. Whether it was the G-20 Meeting in Germany in July or BRICS Summit in Xiamen, India succeeded in raising the issue of terrorism and radicalization in the international fora, but unfortunately, due to the dirty game played by China, it has somehow failed to embarrass Pakistan fully. Unfazed by the brazen support of China to Pakistan, which went to the extent of blocking the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Maulana Masood Azhar as internationally-designated terrorist at the UN Security Council, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the pitch on terror once again at the 15thEast Asia Summit. “We have individually strived very hard to fight terrorism and violent extremism. It is time that we jointly address this challenge by intensifying cooperation in this crucial area,” he stated, in his opening remarks at the Summit. Amid China’s aggressive behaviour in the disputed South China Sea and North Korea’s nuclear missile tests, the ASEAN annual Summit was an ideal venue for India to raise the issue of terror. In fact, all the countries, affected by Islamic Militancy in the ASEAN and the East Asia Summit put their heads together in evolving a consensus on the issue. The 19-member EAS brings together leaders of the 10-member ASEAN group along with all the relevant Indo-Pacific nations that include India, Japan, US, Australia, China, Russia, Canada, South Korea and New Zealand Prime Minister Modi also addressed the concerns of the East Asian countries by calling for setting up rules-based regional security architecture that best attests to the region’s interests and its peaceful development. “Half of the time was taken during the interventions was on the issue of terrorism. Everybody is scared that suddenly there will be an explosion,” stated Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, after the conclusion of the 31stASEAN Summit. The Philippine government has just concluded its five-month war against terrorists in Marawi City. The ISIS had laid siege in the city after losing hold in Syria and Iraq.While Iraq, Syria and the host country of Philippines has tasted victories against ISIS, the fight against terror is not over yet as it is spreading its base in many other countries.

Significantly, the12thEast Asia Summit also saw the revival of four-nation quadrilateral consultative process. In the first meeting, the officials of the US, Japan, India and Australia on the sidelines, deliberated on a range of issues that threatens the security of the Indo-Pacific region in the backdrop of China asserting its claim in the South China Sea. The officials of the quad countries exchanged their views on addressing the menace of terrorism and on enhancing connectivity. The quad was first mooted in 2007 as a multilateral maritime partnership among the four democracies led by the US and India, and was envisaged as a logical extension to the bilateral naval exercises that India had established with the other three nations. However, Beijing took objection at the time and issued démarches to all the four countries. Australia was the first to withdraw from this proposed quad grouping. India and Japan also followed suit and the quad went into cold storage.The situation has dramatically changed since then with the United States too asserting itself. In fact, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, the meeting between the US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Modi turned out to be very fruitful and result-oriented. After the meeting, the White House stated that the two leaders had resolved during their meeting that “two of the world’s great democracies should also have the world’s greatest militaries.” The overt U.S. support for a “great” Indian military is a novel idea to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries. It comes after Trump unveiled a new strategy for Afghanistan, which is critical of Pakistan, India’s primary military rival. With more and more countries falling in line with India’s call on terror issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in fact, is working on a novel and innovative move to host an International Conference on De-radicalisation, which aims to wipe out the trace of terrorism from the very face of the Earth. This assumes tremendous significance, as Islamist Radicalisation has emerged as a major source of terror across the world and tackling Radicalisation is at the root to fighting Terror. Given the support of the Quadrilateral grouping, Modi’s dream to isolate Pakistan may come true, as these countries are bound to support India, in its effort to find out ways to eliminate radicalization. In fact, in his bilateral meetings, Prime Minister Modi raked up this issue with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who visited India along with his wife in April and also with his Philippines counterpart. The suggestion to hold De-radicalisation Conference was made by Prime Minister Modi at the BRICS Summit in Goa in 2016 itself. Certain areas like¬ money-laundering, terrorist finance and cyber-security were identified, where India offered to take the lead in all these initiatives. However, at that time, his idea did not found many takers.

By holding the conference on radicalization, India will take the lead in showing path to the rest of the world in countering the menace of terrorism. Being the victim of cross border terrorism, India can unite other countries in its quest to bring peace and amity across the globe. The move will automatically increase the clout of India and would put both Pakistan and China in the back foot. Given the strategic alliance between the quadrilateral grouping, India’s voice is bound to be heard in the near future. In fact, Prime Minister Modi has been urging all the nations to work together to expedite the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN General Assembly, without any further delay. As per the procedures of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), once consensus is achieved on the draft text of CCIT, the matter will be brought to the UNGA plenary session for adoption. Consensus has been eluding the world community, which is holding up the passage of the CCIT. India has been the victim of terrorism for nearly over three decades, from across her borders. When India raised the issue earlier, no one cared to listen. The world community opened its eyes only after the terror attacks on the World Trade Centre (WTC) Towers in New York on September 11, 2001. With shadow of terror looming large across the nations, there is a growing realisation that a concerted and determined initiative will have to be taken soon before it becomes impossible to contain them. Outfits like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Taliban, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen are mushrooming and more and more countries are now being targeted. Action against the terrorist outfits and those who are supporting them should be expedited. Prime Minister Modi is gradually succeeding in getting his voice heard.

-Anita Saluja

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