Terror groups across the globe cooperate more than the nation-states seeking to counter them, according to India’s minister of state for external affairs MJ Akbar, who told an event here on Thursday that terrorism is the biggest obstacle to India's goals.
On his first visit to London after being appointed to the post in July 2016, Akbar met British ministers, including Alok Sharma (foreign office) and Priti Patel (international development), and participated in the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group meet.
Addressing MPs, lords and members of the Indian community in the House of Lords, Akbar, who is better known for his journalism than politics, presented an account of “India in the Changing World” that placed the country in a pivotal geo-political role in the 21st century.
Regretting attempts to replace nation-states with “faith states”, he said fear is being used to “build walls” between groups.
Akbar said: “The major obstacle to prosperity is not the presence of problems, but the presence of terrorism. This really is the one thing that can deflect…It is naïve to believe that those who encourage, those who believe in terrorism, do not have a political motive.
“Whether it is the Daesh, or Jaish-e-Mohammed or the Lashkar-e-Taiba…one of their objectives is to destabilise, if not destroy, the architecture of stability that has been created in the last 100 years through the nation-state.”
He added: “It is an unfortunate fact, and I have evidence, that there is probably more international cooperation between different terrorist groups than between the nations who are fighting terrorism. The UN has been trying since 1996 to find a definition of terrorism. The search has become an adult, 21 years old, and we still don’t have the definition. How do you fight an enemy you can’t even define?”
Without naming Pakistan, Akbar mentioned the 2008 Mumbai attacks and forces providing sanctuaries to terror groups, and said there were no good or bad terrorists. To the west of India, he said, there was a “narrative of turbulence”.
Organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Indian high commission and the All Party Parliamentary Group on India, the event saw Akbar reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s objective of replacing poverty alleviation with poverty elimination.
Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, IISS senior fellow for South Asia, noted India’s “neighbourhood first” and “Act East” policies and said New Delhi's evolving relationships were taking place in a fast-changing geo-political environment marked by shocks and surprises, such as Brexit and Donald Trump's election as the US president.