New Delhi: The 19th Asian Security Conference on ‘Combating Terrorism: Evolving an Asian Response’, at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) concluded today with a coherent appeal for a regional roadmap that would lay the foundation for a unified global response to counter violent extremism.
Insisting that regional cooperation on combating terrorism can be a confidence building exercise for Asia, which has its own fault lines, the experts suggested that the problem of extremism and radicalism cannot be resolved only through military interventions, as they can neutralise only the symptoms and not the root causes that are the outcome of social, political and economic grievances. They argued that the effective military strategies need to be adopted to counter strategic threats without risking major financial and human cost.
Some of the common denominators for a counterterrorism strategy identified by the experts were discouraging religious extremism, having proper legislation in place to protect minorities, denying of terrorist sanctuaries and use of non-state actors, and national action plans against terrorism.
Suggesting that a counterstrategy for extremism needs action at four levels - global, the Islamic world, regional, and national - the experts unanimously agreed upon the need for de-linking religion from terrorism.
The counternarratives should go beyond religions, to the connected political, historical and psychological issues.
Lack of socio-economic development, inadequate education, heightened poverty, corruption, and misguided nationalism were cited as some of the key drivers of extremist ideologies. Exclusion of minorities from mainstream politics, rising religious chauvinism, and lack of an ideological response to the extremist school of thought, were some other factors.
Conceding that the role of technology in fuelling terror was overplayed, the panellists pointed out that technology acts as an enabler and feedback mechanism to identify target audiences and to reach out to them. In this regard, they agreed on the need for developing multi-disciplinary approaches, capacity-building of law enforcement agencies, and strengthening of public-private partnership to counter terrorism.
The conference was attended by eminent speakers from different parts of the world, belonging to various ethnicities, geographies and religious persuasions.