India Abroad May 22, 2015 A27 WHAT IS PAKISTAN UP TO?
One year into office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, in an inter- view to Time magazine, sketched
out his thinking and approach on the
issue of international terrorism.
Much of what the PM said was unexceptionable, if also somewhat utopian.
Although there was no mention of the ‘P’
word — a bit strange given that Pakistan
is, after all, the epicenter of much of the
terrorism in this region and beyond — the
PM’s reference to the specious distinction
between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban and terrorism did point to India’s bete noire.
The avoidance of the ‘P’ word, much like
his insistence on delinking terrorism from
religion, had less to do with the reality of
the situation and more to do with the politics — domestic and international — of
Mr Modi and his efforts to both appear
statesman-like (vis-a-vis Pakistan) and rid
himself of the taint of being some kind of
Muslim-baiting hardliner (in the implicit
rejection of the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism’).
Ironically, while Mr Modi calls for adoption of the UN Comprehensive
Convention on International Terrorism as
it will lend conceptual clarity to the issue
of terrorism, his aversion to calling a
spade a spade will detract from this.
The least that is expected from Mr Modi
is the sort of apologism that Western leaders display when it comes to radical Islam.
As long as world leaders continue to hide
behind political correctness and obfuscate
the driving force behind the most virulent, vicious and violent sort of terrorism
being practiced by Islamists, they will remain incapable of
fighting this scourge.
Of course, Mr Modi is quite right in asserting that the
world needs to look beyond the ‘nameplates’ of organizations involved in terrorism, beyond the areas affected by
terrorism and, most of all, beyond the victims of terrorism.
In a very nuanced way, Mr Modi pointed out that the
double standards on terrorism adopted by countries is a big
obstacle to forging a global movement and a united fight
against this great peril that faces the world.
What he was really pointing to was that terrorism didn’t
start with 9/11 but preceded it, only the US and its Western
allies were quite okay either flirting with these very same
terrorist groups or turning a blind eye to their murderous
acts because they were affected only tangentially.
Moreover, the international community cannot act with
alacrity if there is a terror attack in
Paris, but practically ignore a much
more horrible massacre in a Kenyan
University. Or, as Mr Modi puts it, view
terrorism in Syria from one perspective
and terrorism outside Syria from
another perspective, which creates its
Put this another way, the US cannot
on the one hand want to build an international coalition against the Islamic
State and on the other hand go into an
overdrive to seek an accommodation
with the Taliban.
Clearly, the Taliban have done everything that IS has done, only they were
more medieval in their worldview and
not as media savvy as the IS. Plus, there
was no You Tube, no mobile phone cameras and no social media when the
Taliban were merrily and mercilessly
beheading people in Afghanistan in the
Mr Modi hit the nail on the head by
underscoring the need to take a ‘
comprehensive look at the ideology of terrorism.’ From Morocco to the Moro
Islands and from Kashgar in China to
Kano in Nigeria, there is a continuum
that runs in the narrative, worldview
and ideological underpinning of
Islamist terrorist groups.
The inability of the international
community to come up with a counter-ideological narrative has been the
greatest failure in the fight against terrorism.
This is partly a function of the lack of
comprehension and understanding of
what is driving and motivating people
to indulge in the savagery of religion-inspired terrorism, and partly an outcome of the chariness and reluctance of
authorities to clearly point to where the
Mr Modi’s emphasis on the need for
an early adoption of the UNCCIT also
stems from his identification of
transnational crimes like money laundering, narcotics smuggling and arms
trafficking with international terrorism.
Unless there is an agreement on what
constitutes terrorism, it is a bit of a pipe
dream to expect countries to cooperate
on strangulating the terror networks
and denying them the tools like communication equipment with which they
peddle their murderous wares.
While this is all very well in theory,
placing too much in store of UNCCIT
perhaps smacks of a little naivety.
When the United Nations Security
Council resolutions are blithely violated
and brazenly flouted, not just by countries like Pakistan but also countries like the US — sanctioned Taliban terrorists have been travelling to Qatar to
hold a track-II meeting — what is the guarantee that the
UNCCIT will get around the cynical calculations that
United States make in pursuit of their interests?
Sushant Sareen is a Senior Fellow at the Vivekananda
Mr Modi, don’t avoid the ‘P’ word
The avoidance of the ‘P’
word had less to do with
reality and more to do
with the politics —
international — of
Mr Modi and his efforts
to both appear
statesman-like and rid
himself of the taint of
being some kind of
says Sushant Sareen.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Afghanistan President Dr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at Hyderabad House, New Delhi, April 28. PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU