India to Strengthen Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Cooperation

Moscow:  With the dastardly attack in St Petersburg still fresh in our memory, it is only appropriate that the theme of the emerging trends in global security was being discussed at the 6th Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow, Russia, recently.

With the global nature of this menace, the need for a coherent and sustained international response to it is now being widely acknowledged. Nearly all countries present at this conference are looking at proactive steps to counter international terrorism. India has assured partners of all friendly countries confronted with the challenge of terrorism of strengthening ongoing cooperation to counter terrorism.

India and Russia share a special and privileged strategic partnership, which has stood the test of time. Their cooperation in defence and security matters in particular has been robust. Russia is India’s foremost defence partner.

Newer Manifestations of Terrorism

Addressing the gathering, India’s Defence Minister, Arun Jaitley said, “The scourge of terrorism remains the primary security challenge for all peaceful countries. Russia continues to be a target, with the attack in St Petersburg still fresh in our memory. I wish to convey India’s strong solidarity with Russia and our sympathy for the victims and the families affected by of this dastardly attack.”

Terrorism is being reinvented in newer and even more dangerous manifestations. The manipulation of young minds by fundamentalist groups using new technologies and social media has already caused long-term damage to our societies. The manifestation of this is the recent string of lone-wolf attacks in many countries.

“On the positive side, the territory acquired by ISIS in the Middle East has begun to be effectively challenged by several countries. This is reassuring and should be taken to its logical conclusion. Cooperation between major powers in this effort can become a template for similar steps elsewhere,” Jaitely said.

However, he struck a word of caution, “even as we work to eliminate the breeding grounds of terrorism in West Asia, the dangers of such elements returning to their home countries has become a major challenge, we need to encourage closer information exchanges and intelligence cooperation to address this threat.”

Jaitely resolutely resisted opportunistic efforts by some states to support terrorist proxies by training, funding or providing safe havens to such groups for their limited objectives.

“Distinctions are still sought to be made between good and bad terrorists, despite all the evidence and experience to the contrary. Terrorism will recoil on those who nurture it,” he added.

Maritime Security

Jaitely highlighted another serious challenge facing the world today, that is the resurgence of territorial disputes in the maritime domain. Maritime territorial disputes are particularly complex and need to be managed effectively, lest they undermine the regional order as well as structures and processes that help maintain peace and stability.

In the Asia Pacific, the past decades of peaceful growth have transformed that region into one of the most dynamic engines of the global economy. The conference urged partners to ensure that the continued prosperity of the region is not put at risk.

The recent escalation of tensions in the Korean peninsula is a matter of concern. The linkages between proliferation in that region with the deterioration of India’s own security environment is widely known. Addressing the current situation should acknowledge this aspect and address issues from a broader perspective to be fully effective.

Another aspect of the current security scenario is the growing salience of non-traditional threats to security. Effective management of cyber-space has emerged as a key national security challenge for many countries. Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief requirements are also increasing, fuelled both by man-made and natural causes.

Jaitley assured the members that India will continue to play its due role in the maintenance of regional and international peace and stability. India’s rapid growth over the past two decades has also helped elevate the economic trajectory of smaller neighbours. With renewed emphasis on regional connectivity, the focus on Act East, the ongoing effort to engage with Gulf countries, Africa as well as the wider Indian Ocean Region, India is now at the centre of a dynamic web of partnerships.

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