In fight against the scourge of Terrorism, one of the often heard cliché/formula is the need for all nations to cooperate with each other, chiefly, by sharing Intelligence. Each country recognizes this vital need for success against this hydra. It has been discussed in many forums and many an agreement have been signed but the daily occurrence of acts terrorism across the globe stands a mute witness to the lack of sincerity on the part of most to share intelligence, to prevent such acts.
Terrorists of today are not entirely the rural, rustic, semi literate from the deprived society, lured into the world of terrorism by the promises of wine, women and wealth or ones who are inspired to save their religion /nation. True, they do make bulk of the ground soldiers but today many amongst them are educated, well qualified, technologically proficient and globally networked, adept in manipulating the established international systems such as system of transfer of funds like the SWIFT, to side step sanctions and to gain access to funds, the mainstay of any terrorist organisation.
These terrorist too are very adept in navigating the world of global communications based on high end technologies and are able to establish fool proof systems of communications, a system where calls cannot be traced within an actionable time frame. Using latest high end technology, they stay a few steps ahead of the Intelligence community and the Security forces of even developed nations, who more often than not, are unable to keep pace with modernization due to either resources crunch or due to delays caused by their bureaucratic machinery. The Security forces are then caught napping.
This was clearly highlighted in the Good Friday carnage in Sri Lanka this year and in Christchurch, New Zealand recently. This can be to an extent mitigated if the sale of high end technologies (and arms and explosives) are monitored through a global watch dog to fight terrorism which has the ability to sieve through purchases by shell companies or can monitor pilferage of these essential materials of terrorism from private and Government agencies and be able to monitor the Social Media and the Internet. This Global Watch dog to succeed needs sharing of real time intelligence. Sounds utopian but it’s the need of the day.
Unified global approach to counter terrorism often takes a blow when a terrorist group is created and controlled by Nations who want to further their aims through the acts of violence of these terrorist groups or proxy armies. Case in point are the Al Qaeda dubbed good by US in Syria, the birth of ISIS and ISIL in Iraq and in Syria .The strong resistance by US and Israel to Russian and Syrian advance against ISIS and ISIL when cornered in enclaves like Aleppo and Dera and now Idlib and negotiating for their safe passage/ evacuation are a case in point.
The sudden growth of ISIS in Afghanistan, mainly comprising of foreign fighters and the link of this group to US backed fighters affiliated to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) makes Western China (Xinjiang) vulnerable due to accessibility through the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. Growth of ISIS in Afghanistan also de stabilizes Central Asia and Pakistan and may target the Belt Road Initiative in Central Asia and the CPEC, where a restive Baluchistan is already a security challenge.
ISIS too has raised its head in Europe. It is a fallout mainly of the influx of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and poverty ridden Africa. This has given rise to racial tensions. Capitalising on the racial tensions, the Far Right political parties are on the ascent in Europe. Recently they had more success in EU elections than the old established parties of Europe. Far Rights advocate racial purity and many blame them to be pro Russian. Racial tension has seen ISIS strikes in Spain, France, Belgium and Germany, despite a networked Intelligence sharing system. As racial tensions rise, mainly due to shrinking employment opportunities for the locals, specter of ISIS too will rise.
ISI is another major state actor who has proxy armies, mainly for use against India, though ISI also exports terror to Iran, China, and Afghanistan and earlier have done to Kosovo and Chechnya. This state sponsor of proxy armies defeats the spirit of global cooperation to fight terrorism. This scenario is unlikely to change with US and its close allies in EU plus Saudi Arabia and Israel engaged presently in a deep tussle to counter and restrict the growing influence of Russia and China, around the world.
In South Asia today, embedding ISIS with Rakhine’s in the Arakan province of Myanmar apparently is with a view to disrupt Chinese development of the Kyaukphyu port and SEZ on Ramree Island,which besides the SEZ will also be an Oil offloading point for the Southern China, thereby avoiding transit through the Malacca and Sunda Straits.
Rohingyas from Myanmar and Muslims from Bangladesh are pouring into India from the porous Indo Bangladesh borders are changing the demography in Eastern States of India. These illegal migrants quickly merge with the local population and move into the hinterland in search of employment, further queering the internal security situation in India. Their antecedents are dubious as there are confirmed reports of ISI operatives operating amongst the nine lakh Rohingyas in refugee camps in Bangladesh. These ISI operatives are training and arming Rohingyas not only to create unrest in Myanmar but also to infiltrate into India and create terror.
In Pakistan, the native ex ISIS is a huge trained force in the hands of the ISI for deployment in Kashmir and in India. ISIS is a new entity in the Kashmir valley but this can get an impetus if ISI infiltrates ex ISIS cadre and carries out successful strikes in Kashmir and across India. To expect any cooperation to fight terrorism with Pakistan is a Utopian dream for India (and the world).
In North East India, in insurgency ridden land “Seven Sisters” a fragile peace prevails. These states are reaping the benefits of this normalcy attained by a joint effort of Indian Armed forces, the Assam Rifles and the Administration. But this situation may change if the recent talks on handing over the operational control of the Assam Rifles to the Ministry of Home Affairs who finance Assam Rifles, fructifies.
Assam Rifles, the “Sentinels of the North East” are akin /synonymous/ complementary to any Indian Army infantry unit in ethos, training and operational capability. Such a move is bound to be detrimental to the operational efficiency of the Assam Rifles which is deployed mainly on the Indo Myanmar borders to keep in check the insurgent groups camped in Myanmar and in internal security of North East. This may break this fragile peace which then can be capitalized upon by nations inimical to India as it has been in the past. History will then repeat itself.
India has in the past taken active initiatives to forge a system of sharing intelligence in S Asia. BIMSTEC is one such forum, as is SAARC. India and ASEAN too have such agreements as are India’s agreements with Russia, China, Iran, Israel, S Arabia, US, EU and many other nations.
For India the main source of terrorism is Pakistan and thereby our dire need is to grow into an advanced nation in all aspects at the earliest and make all nations in S Asia to be partner in our growth story, a win win story for all. Such development will translate into an advanced intelligence sharing mechanism as security will be a key factor in this growth and development story of South Asia, powered by India. This will isolate Pakistan, which is already under extreme financial duress and internal strife. Either Pakistan will amend its ways, give up its illegal claims on Jammu and Kashmir and join the South Asian growth story or it will get sidelined in South Asia as a pariah and an untouchable state. But India cannot lower its guard, even if Pakistan appears to mend its way. Kargil happened after Indian PM’s friendship visit to Lahore, just yesterday, in history.