G20 steered by India can become powerful instrument for global security, world economy
D.C. PATHAK (IANS) | 04 Dec, 2022
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has struck a note of confidence about India
playing an effective role during its G20 Presidency, in dealing with
multiple challenges including geopolitical tensions and a global
economic slowdown amid rising food and energy prices.
has announced that India's G20 Presidency will be 'inclusive,
ambitious, decisive and action oriented' and in keeping with his belief
in India as a world power, declared that "over the next one year, we
will strive to ensure that the G20 acts as global prime mover to
envision new ideas and accelerate collective action".
Minister is well attuned to the need for preserving India's national
security and safeguarding the country's economic interests. Challenges
on the security front need an in-depth examination.
important that India mobilises the democratic world against the new
global terror rooted in 'radicalisation' and gets the Muslim countries
and international institutions projecting Islam as a religion of peace,
to come out with a proclamation that in today's world, Jehad is not the
route to solving political disputes.
India can build on the
statement of R20 - the forum launched by Indonesia at Bali as a prelude
to G20 - for promoting inter-faith dialogue, presenting Islam as a
moderate belief system and calling for inter-religious harmony and
respect for other faiths.
The Bali meet that witnessed an
overwhelming presence of the orthodox Sunni leadership of the world
steered by Mecca-based Rabita-e-Alam-e-Islami, gave an opening to India
to internationally carry forward the message of equality of all
religions and isolate countries like Pakistan that shelter radical
In an effective follow-up, India's National
Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, convened the bilateral India- Indonesia
security dialogue in Delhi on November 29 to which Ulema and other
spokespersons of religions were invited for deliberating on
inter-religious goodwill and peace and recording a strong disapproval of
terrorism, extremism and radicalisation.
Indonesia and India
together account for the biggest chunk of Sunni Muslims in Asia who were
keen to secure recognition of Islam as a religion of peace.
Delhi initiative will help India in countering the anti-India narrative
being built by lobbies, particularly in the West, on issues of
democratic rights, treatment of minorities and the alleged rise of
'majoritarianism' in this country.
While terrorism and
radicalisation, the twin threats to the democratic world, are acquiring
geopolitical dimensions, their impact in South Asia in particular is of
mounting concern for India, largely because Pakistan and China, the two
hostile neighbours of this country now in strategic alliance, are out to
damage India's national security - particularly its internal stability
A discussion on radicalisation is not about a
religion or the merits of a faith, but an examination of the misuse of
religion for political objectives on a scale that could be pushing the
world towards a clash of civilisations and religion-based conflicts of
Also, in the Indian context, it is not a
community question so much - members of all communities in India are
preoccupied with livelihood matters and pursuit of welfare of their
families - as the matter of communally-minded elite and many Ulema
running the politics of the minority community by invoking the card of
religion and exploiting the Islamic mandate that 'faith' embraces all
aspects of the life of a Muslim - personal, socio political and even
economic - leaving no space between religion and politics.
is vulnerable to the historical memories of Partition - a
religion-based division of the country coinciding with Independence -
that saw unprecedented violence and loss of human lives. The legacy of
communal conflicts inherited by free India was beginning to taper off
when in the closing part of the eighties, a fresh wave of Islamic
fundamentalism in Pakistan culminated in the call for Nizam-e-Mustafa by
Gen Ziaul Haq.
The JeI Pakistan rose to become the main
instrument of the regime for implementing the agenda of Gen Zia, who
went on to declare at the fourth Islamic summit at Casablanca in 1984
that Muslims from Algeria to Philippines were part of the 'Ummah' and
urged the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to keep them united.
set off a powerful Pan-Islamic movement on the Indian sub-continent and
created an environ in which the Students Islamic Movement of India
(SIMI) was launched by an AMU-based professor, who was also a
Majlis-e-Shora member of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
linked up with OIC affiliated international organisations and injected a
degree of militancy in its work of uniting Muslim youth for
establishing an Islamic rule. Inevitably, this kind of campaigning led
to the formation of Indian Mujahideen (IM) as an offspring of SIMI that
got involved in acts of serious violence.
SIMI turned out to be an example of how communal militancy could graduate into terrorism in the name of 'Islam'.
trend has to be checked and reversed for safeguarding India's internal
security. Following a ban on SIMI, another organisation rose on its
trail, this time in Kerala - the Popular Front of India (PFI) - which
got linked up with Jeddah-based World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) as
also with the Karachi-based Dawat-e-Islami with its suspected Pak ISI
PFI has also been banned after an investigation by
NIA proving the point that India has to be extremely watchful against
the surreptitious attempts of our adversaries to foster faith-based
militancy and terrorism by exploiting the Muslim minority here.
the years, a repeat of the hateful communal approach of Pakistan
towards India is reflected in the first ever National Security Policy of
Pakistan released by then Prime Minister Imran Khan at the beginning of
Describing India as the principal adversary of
Pakistan, it alleged that the present pro-Hindu dispensation in India
has put the security of Muslim minority here in jeopardy and invoking
the call of regarding Muslims of India as a part of Ummah, asserted that
Pakistan has a right to take full interest in them.
evident in the move of Pakistan to get OIC to demand 'national apology'
from India for the 'insult' allegedly caused to Prophet Mohammad by a
'party functionary' in the course of a TV debate. The beheading of two
Hindus by Islamic fanatics in the wake of this event was not
unequivocally condemned by the Ulema and the elite leading the minority
The decision of Pakistan to put Indo-Pak relations in
Hindu-Muslim framework creates a potentially subversive environ on
India's domestic front and paves the way for the spread of faith-based
Terrorism by definition is resort to 'covert'
violence for a perceived 'political cause' - cause needs 'commitment'
which in turn is determined by 'motivation'.
Motivation can be
ideological as is the case with Naxalism or an assertion of ethnic
identity as was the reason behind the insurgencies of Northeast, but the
new global terror uses faith for motivation which can be very strong in
Islam for the pull of 'exclusivism' and 'superiority' that it is able
to exercise on people for turning their minds - radicalisation can
convert a poorly placed Madrasa trained youth as easily as it can do in
the case of an educated individual of means.
The background of
Pak-sponsored cross-border terrorism in Kashmir, its enlargement into a
'proxy war' against India and the course of escalation of this threat in
recent years indicate three flag marks that can be easily identified as
the source of escalation of India-centric security threats.
might have a wider geopolitical impact too but they leave India with
the burden of preparing to deal with the situation through a strategy
entirely of its own since the world at large might not share this
country's concerns beyond a point.
First was the success of
anti-Soviet armed campaign in Afghanistan - that was run on the war cry
of Jehad - in which Pak-sponsored Hizbul Mujahideen, Saudi funded
Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and the radical Taliban-Al Qaeda combine all took a
The victory of Jehad in Afghanistan that caused
the dismemberment of USSR and ended the Cold War, was credited to
Pakistan by the US and having emerged as a special favourite of
Americans, the Pak ISI lost no time in planning a replication of the
Afghan Jehad in Kashmir where the Jamaat-e-Islami's Hizbul Mujahideen
had till then been carrying out a separatist movement on the slogan of
This got replaced by the new call in the name of
Islam that would derive strength from the projection of Kashmir valley
as a Muslim majority territory.
In 1993 a powerful radical group
called Harkat-ul-Ansar comprising Taliban Mujahideen, infiltrated into
the Valley for the first time and kidnapped a number of Western tourists
- it was giving vent to the hostility of Islamic radicals against the
US-led West that was rooted in the historical memory of the failed
anti-British Jehad launched by the Wahhabi Ulema on the Indian
subcontinent in the middle of 19th century.
ISI had advised the HuM in the Valley to logistically support the
radical outfit which showed how Pakistan was using all groups of
militants - from the Hanafi Jamaatis and the Lashkar of Ahle Hadis
orientation to the Wahhabis of Al Qaeda - in its covert offensive
It was Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who sent
Taliban - fundamentalist militant products of Deobandi Madrasas - to
Afghanistan in 1993 to quell the turbulence created there by the
conflict between Northern Alliance and the warring Islamic factions and
helped the installation of the first Taliban Emirate at Kabul in 1996.
Qaeda acquired a free run of Afghanistan as Mullah Omar was a close
relative of Osama bin Laden. When the Emirate bared its fangs against
the US, the latter had to work for its ouster. This in turn laid the run
up for 9/11 that was followed by the 'war on terror' led by the US-led
The second flag mark of the rise of
radicalisation as a phenomenon fostering terrorism is the role of
Pakistan through the entire course of the 'war on terror' which was
essentially a combat between US-led World Coalition and Islamic radicals
in the wake of 9/11.
Pakistan came on board - India had already
joined in- only after a certain degree of coercion from the Bush regime
had come into play but its participation in the 'war on terror' was
always duplicitous as it tried to have a foot in each camp and remained
on the right side of the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine.
In the years
of 'war on terror', Pakistan kept up its covert offensive against India
in Kashmir using outfits like HuM, LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad which were
India-specific and which did not target the West.
for Pakistan the benefit of the US policy makers deciding to make a
facile distinction between 'good terrorists' and 'bad terrorists' on a
politically tinted reading that radicals attacking American interests
were a prime adversary for the US whereas the militants who fought
against India in Kashmir could be deemed to be doing so in pursuit of a
political dispute between India and Pakistan.
drew a line between 'radical' Islam and 'political' Islam at the cost of
India - as it continued to believe that Pakistan could still be relied
on as an ally.
By the time US policy makers woke up to the
collusion of Pakistan with radical forces, Pakistan had seized the
opportunity of projecting itself as a mediator between US and Taliban in
a situation where the US was desperate about pulling out troops from
the messy battlefield of Afghanistan.
The US put up with the
return of Kabul Emirate of Taliban - a development it knew had come
about only because of the total support of Pakistan to Taliban - in lieu
of a flimsy assurance of Taliban that Afghan territory will not be
allowed to be used by Al Qaeda for another 9/11 type of attack.
Imran Khan, who went over his Generals to denounce the decision of
Pakistan of supporting the US in the 'war on terror', his successor
Shehbaz Sharif is trying to bring Pakistan closer to the US once again,
taking advantage of the traditional goodwill that Pentagon has had for
Pakistan's military establishment.
India has no problem with all
of this provided the US do not revive the policy of 'good terrorists'
vs 'bad terrorists' on the Kashmir front.
friendship under the Modi regime is now strong enough to withstand any
attempt of Pakistan to hoodwink the US on the decision of the Indian
Parliament to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution three years ago.
third marker that has paved the way for the spread of radicalisation is
the firming up of Sino-Pak axis against India with its geopolitical
bearing on the rest of the world.
China supported the moves of
Pakistan to keep India from building influence in Afghanistan and after
the reinstallation of Taliban Emirate in Kabul, entered into a huge
'give and take' with Pakistan for working together on Afghanistan.
strong objection to Pakistan ceding territory in northern PoK to China
for establishing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC), our
preparedness to deal with any aggression of China on LAC in Eastern
Ladakh and India's constitutional move to dispense with the special
status of J&K, have driven China and Pakistan into each other's fold
and Pakistan in return for China's backing of cross-border terrorism in
Kashmir, has apparently given an assurance that after the return of
Taliban in Afghanistan, no questions would be raised on the treatment of
Muslim minorities in China.
The alliance between a Marxist
dictatorship and an Islamic state is sustained by their common hostility
towards India, just as a stark opposition to the US puts the radical
Taliban and China on the same side of the fence, geopolitically.
consistent opposition to UN's moves to designate Pak-based militants as
international terrorists and supply of drones to Pakistan by China for
covert operations in Kashmir and Punjab, indicate a collective intention
of these two adversaries to fish in the troubled waters of India.
collusion is particularly marked in the period since the abrogation of
Article 370 relating to J&K. Pakistan is now using proxies of Al
Qaeda and ISIS to organise terror acts in India and making full use of
social media for creating sleeper cells and 'lone wolves' - adding to
the tasks of our intelligence agencies.
It can be seen that the
US is having a comfort of distance as far as the radical threat from
Pak- Afghan belt was concerned. It is also not feeling directly
concerned over Sino-Pak axis even in a situation where signs of a new
Cold War between US and China were already on the horizon.
in the process is largely on its own in strategising against terrorism
and radicalisation. Apart from the global initiatives, however, India
needs to take comprehensive measures to safeguard its own internal
security against the threats of terrorism and radicalisation at home and
the machinations of Pakistan and China behind the same.
(The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau. The views expressed are personal)
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