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United Against Terror Groups

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a “uniform action” against international terrorism at the joint session of the US Congress on Wednesday must find echoes not only in the United States but also in Europe. US President Barack Obama and leaders of European nations have been urging each other in the last few years to fight terrorism unitedly. India is not the only country troubled by terrorism: the US and European nations too are. The global unity was evident after the terror attacks in Paris last November.  At least 130 people were killed in the city by Islamic State terrorists who, armed with assault rifles and explosives, targeted six locations across the city. The victims were innocent Parisians who were at a concert hall enjoying a musical performance, in a stadium watching a soccer match, in a restaurant and in a bar enjoying food and drinks with family or friends. The attacks too place three days before the G20 summit was to begin in Paris. President Hollande of France decided to host the G20 summit despite declaring a state of emergency in the country. And the world leaders came to attend the summit.  Prime Minister Modi said at the summit, “Today, we meet in the tragic shadow of dreadful acts of terrorism. Combating it must be major priority for G20.”

It was not just Paris. On October 31 last a Russian passenger airliner crashed in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula after a bomb exploded on board, killing 224 passengers and crew. On November 12 last, at least 41 people were killed in two bomb attacks by the Islamic State in the Lebanese capital Beirut. On October 10 last 107 people were killed in Ankara in the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of modern Turkey. There is thus no running away from a united front against terrorism. The world is indeed getting united. President Putin says the world would be able to deal with the terrorist threat only if the international community united in the effort. Chinese President Xi Jinping says, “We will work more closely with the international community to reject and fight terrorism in all its manifestations.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the world’s response to terrorism should be robust, though he warns that it should be within the law and respect human rights — “otherwise we will only fan the fight we are trying to protect”.  Ban promised that he would soon present to the member states of the UN a “comprehensive plan of action to prevent violent extremism.”

India’s war against terrorism is not just limited to terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir. International terror groups such as Islamic State, the Taliban and al-Qaeda are engaged in acts of terror against the country. Besides, there are India-specific terror groups such as Indian Mujahideen. However, these terror groups are inspired by the same ideas of barbaric actions against innocent people in the name of fighting for Islam and hence are interlinked. India cannot find these terror groups alone. The terror groups are committing violence not only within India but also outside, such as in Kabul against targets including Indian embassy. Pakistan is the major sponsor of terror groups against India; hence India’s primary focus has been to curb Islamabad in association with the US and European nations. In his address to the joint session of the US Congress Modi pointed to terrorism being “incubated in India’s neighbourhood” and pressed for action without distinction against groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Taliban and IS who share the “same philosophy of hate, murder and killings.” He commended the American lawmakers for sending out a clear message in refusing to “reward” those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains — an apparent reference to the recent blocking of sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

However, a global strategy against terror requires much more than an action here and an action there. All the countries must develop a comprehensive strategy to put an end to finance, supplies and communication channels of the terrorists, stop the flow of arms and explosives to terror groups, create special international legal regime to disrupt terrorist activities and cooperate in preventing the use of cyber networks by terror groups. They must adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism as soon as possible. While championing a global strategy and action against terrorism, India must not remain focused on action only against terror groups afflicting the country. It should broaden its strategic concerns and join the global fight against global terror groups. India has broadened its concerns to an extent to cover the whole of South Asia including Afghanistan. It must broaden them further.

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