New Delhi: India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, in his first public interaction, called Tuesday for a collective global convergence on terrorism and said that a UN convention on terrorism could not be formulated for the past 13 years as Pakistan had objected to “freedom fighters” being termed terrorists.
Addressing the Munich Security Conference meet here, Doval also said that India considers strong democracy as the best tool to foster security both within the country and in the region.
Commenting on the changing nature of conflicts powered by economics and regional interests, he said that the threat of terrorism constituted only 40 percent of the danger and what is important is the response. “There is need for convergence, automated systems and institutionalized mechanism and meaningful partnership” to combat the threat of terrorism, he said.
He said that post the 9/11 attacks when the war on terror was launched, terrorism has become “much more intense and expanded, engulfed new areas, and the type of capability it has acquired has become mind boggling”, and India is deeply concerned about terrorism and its manifestations.
He said in the past 13 years while individual countries have honed their independent anti-terror mechanisms and networks, at the international level countries have failed to jointly act against terror, except to hold conferences.
Since 2001 there had been an idea to have a comprehensive UN convention on terrorism but the failure to have one due to “one reason; people could not define terrorism”, he said, adding that at the Kuala Lumpur conference then it was almost accepted, but for one point. "Some country wanted, Pakistan wanted that, the causative factor, freedom fighters, should not be treated as terrorists."
He said because of Pakistan’s objection the adoption of the UN convention on terrorism was held back.
He called for a UN convention on terrorism, adding: “And should something happen, there should be a collective response, a systemic convergence.”
Speaking of cyber terrorism, he suggested that the conventional method of extradition and interrogation with regard to cyber terrorists was a “very cumbersome process”. Since cyber crime is a fast moving process it needs to be responded to in 24 hours.
On maritime security, he said that it is imperative to have free lanes. Doval said the Indian Ocean is an area of peace and development and the world has to “be extremely vigilant to see that balances are not disrupted” and wherever there are conflicts global agreements should determine the solution.
On the new Narendra Modi government’s approach to security, Doval said the government does not view it as a problem related to the armed forces or police forces but in a much broader way.
“For both internal and external (security), we think that democracy is one of the most powerful tools in dealing with security problems. And if we have democracy, a strong democracy in the country and similar in the region that would be one of very surest symbols of India’s security,” he said, and referred to Modi’s invite to the neighbourhood leaders. He said the elections were also indicative of how democracy can bring change of regime in a peaceful and orderly manner.
On the government’s neighbourhood policy, he said the government’s aim is for development of the region, and to see “whether the fruits of India’s growth and development would have a spillover effect” and also to assure neighbours that India’s growth “is not a threat or to undermine statehood but to enrich and provide new opportunities”.
Doval said India wants to resolve any conflict through talks and has made a beginning in the direction. “But at the same time India would like to have an effective deterrence capability that is credible, that is seen and known by people; and that India cannot be taken for granted, and that its legitimate rights cannot be trampled upon, and that it becomes an instrument for stability in the region rather than a cause for conflict,” he said.
To a question on China, Doval said India considers “China as a very important neighbour” and a country with which India has had good relations for many centuries, barring “some bad experience in 1962 and the water dispute”. He said both sides will find a solution to their bilateral problems through talks and both have found a “lot of space in economic cooperation” despite many problems that are common.
In a warning, he added “but while we want every opportunity to develop relations to the best extent, our territorial interests and sovereignty are totally inalienable.”