India's Strategic Role in Countering Jihadism

The confrontation in the Indian subcontinent among al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their allies on the one hand, and the three democracies they target -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India -- on the other hand must be reevaluated in terms of international cooperation against the jihadi threat. A regional system should be established to integrate the struggle against all jihadi forces in the subcontinent.

There needs to be a separation of the ethnic and territorial questions from the fight against terrorism. Once that distinction is made, the possibility of internationalization of counterterrorism will be high. Jihadists based in any country of the subcontinent must not be given legitimacy by any government on the ground of a local ethnic issue. Jihadi forces must be confronted collectively, while diplomacy and international mediations assist in solving the local problems.

India's particular role

The West can help all players in the subcontinent coming under internationalization of the struggle against jihadi terror. But India has enough international credibility to help the West and other democracies in building an international basis for this counter-jihadi platform. There are initiatives India can take within the third world and international organizations which can weaken jihadist propaganda against India's partners worldwide. India can help build this international platform because of its unique history in the non-aligned world so that the West and other democracies can in return help India fight its jihadi threats locally. India must play a strategic and international role in said campaign worldwide. Some of that role must be on a military and security level, but India can also play a significant role in diplomatic and political realms to consolidate the international campaign.

Strategic suggestions

Hence, in conclusion, I advance the following suggestions to be considered by the Indian government and counterterrorism experts.

1. That Indian think-tanks initiate a series of bilateral seminars and discussions with think-tanks and research centers in the various regions potentially involved in such a future strategy, including with the United States, Europe, Russia, sub-Saharan Africa, and moderate Arab and Muslim states.

2. That the results of these regional workshops be integrated under an international framework where India could play an important role.

3. That such an international framework or document be submitted to the United States by all member states whose think-tanks have been involved.

Evidently such architecture demands efforts, resources, and good architects. I do believe, based on my work with groups and lawmakers interested in the issue worldwide, that interest in finding a new global strategy to confront the growing global threat is very high.

The impact of an Indian strategic involvement in countering the jihadi threat on the military, security, and also the ideological and political levels will bring an important addition to the global efforts against the terror forces. Hence, a dialogue between U.S., Western, and Indian strategists, lawmakers, and decision-makers to establish the bases of such coordination is a must in the current state of the struggle in countering the common threat. A Western dialogue with India should open the door to a wide array of regional platforms of cooperation, including, for example, between India, Australia, and New Zealand on the one hand, and between New Delhi and its three south-Asian potential partners against al-Qaeda -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. From its unique position, India can also enter into a dialogue with Russia and China (despite disagreements on many issues) on joint efforts to isolate the jihadi networks which threaten the stability of central Asia as a whole. This cobweb of Indian outreach to countries already fighting the jihadists in Asia and internationally is needed to achieve an unprecedented isolation of al-Qaeda and its Taliban-like allies across the largest continent on the planet.   

Adapted from Professor Phares' speech to the Asian Security Conference 2010 under the theme "Asian Strategic Futures 2030: Trends, Scenarios and Alternatives." Professor Phares' presentation was under the title "The Future of Terrorism: Jihadi threat in the Indian Subcontinent."
The confrontation in the Indian subcontinent among al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their allies on the one hand, and the three democracies they target -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India -- on the other hand must be reevaluated in terms of international cooperation against the jihadi threat. A regional system should be established to integrate the struggle against all jihadi forces in the subcontinent.

There needs to be a separation of the ethnic and territorial questions from the fight against terrorism. Once that distinction is made, the possibility of internationalization of counterterrorism will be high. Jihadists based in any country of the subcontinent must not be given legitimacy by any government on the ground of a local ethnic issue. Jihadi forces must be confronted collectively, while diplomacy and international mediations assist in solving the local problems.

India's particular role

The West can help all players in the subcontinent coming under internationalization of the struggle against jihadi terror. But India has enough international credibility to help the West and other democracies in building an international basis for this counter-jihadi platform. There are initiatives India can take within the third world and international organizations which can weaken jihadist propaganda against India's partners worldwide. India can help build this international platform because of its unique history in the non-aligned world so that the West and other democracies can in return help India fight its jihadi threats locally. India must play a strategic and international role in said campaign worldwide. Some of that role must be on a military and security level, but India can also play a significant role in diplomatic and political realms to consolidate the international campaign.

Strategic suggestions

Hence, in conclusion, I advance the following suggestions to be considered by the Indian government and counterterrorism experts.

1. That Indian think-tanks initiate a series of bilateral seminars and discussions with think-tanks and research centers in the various regions potentially involved in such a future strategy, including with the United States, Europe, Russia, sub-Saharan Africa, and moderate Arab and Muslim states.

2. That the results of these regional workshops be integrated under an international framework where India could play an important role.

3. That such an international framework or document be submitted to the United States by all member states whose think-tanks have been involved.

Evidently such architecture demands efforts, resources, and good architects. I do believe, based on my work with groups and lawmakers interested in the issue worldwide, that interest in finding a new global strategy to confront the growing global threat is very high.

The impact of an Indian strategic involvement in countering the jihadi threat on the military, security, and also the ideological and political levels will bring an important addition to the global efforts against the terror forces. Hence, a dialogue between U.S., Western, and Indian strategists, lawmakers, and decision-makers to establish the bases of such coordination is a must in the current state of the struggle in countering the common threat. A Western dialogue with India should open the door to a wide array of regional platforms of cooperation, including, for example, between India, Australia, and New Zealand on the one hand, and between New Delhi and its three south-Asian potential partners against al-Qaeda -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. From its unique position, India can also enter into a dialogue with Russia and China (despite disagreements on many issues) on joint efforts to isolate the jihadi networks which threaten the stability of central Asia as a whole. This cobweb of Indian outreach to countries already fighting the jihadists in Asia and internationally is needed to achieve an unprecedented isolation of al-Qaeda and its Taliban-like allies across the largest continent on the planet.   

Adapted from Professor Phares' speech to the Asian Security Conference 2010 under the theme "Asian Strategic Futures 2030: Trends, Scenarios and Alternatives." Professor Phares' presentation was under the title "The Future of Terrorism: Jihadi threat in the Indian Subcontinent."

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