common cause

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 24 Oct 2017 11:48:52

EXTERNAL Affairs Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj summed up India’s concerns over issues afflicting the South Asian region in general and India and Bangladesh in particular, when she said, “We are both determined to protect our societies from the threat of ideologies of hate, violence and terror by adopting a zero tolerance policy and a comprehensive approach in fighting violent extremism and terrorism at all levels.” During her visit to Dhaka she discussed with Bangladeshi leaders the common challenge of terror the two South Asian neighbours faced and resolved to fight the scourge together. And that is indeed the need of the hour for both India and Bangladesh as they face threat from terrorism, especially emanating from religious extremism. 

Plural societies like India and Bangladesh, which hold every religious faith in respect and with equal status, any kind of bigotism and extremism pose grave challenge to their democratic, cosmopolitan value systems. It then becomes necessary for such liberal societies to cooperate with each other to protect their liberal value systems from the onslaught of extremist forces that have thrived in their neighbourhood and are being unleashed on neighbours like India and Bangladesh. And the source nurturing such violent extremism has now been identified by the entire world as being Pakistan.

Recently when the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Parliamentary Speakers’ conference was held, Lok Sabha Speaker Mrs. Sumitra Mahajan had said that the South Asian multilateral organisation was formed to achieve progress, prosperity and peace in the region through mutual cooperation of the member countries as they shared common cultural values which could help achieve economic progress and through it usher in peace. But Pakistan has all along remained a thorn in the organisation. Instead of cooperation with neighbours Pakistan has used terror for destabilising neighbouring countries like India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Because of Pakistan’s hate-mongering against its neighbours, most SAARC countries have been forced to fight the scourge of terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which has separatist and religious hegemonism at its core. All the three countries have been forced to concentrate their energies and resources on fighting this menace virtually on a perpetual basis. These countries have suffered much and the fight seems to be endless as Pakistan persists with its sponsorship of terrorism as a policy tool. It appears to be unconcerned over the prospect of the world community ostracising it for its sponsorship of terrorism any time soon.

While India has been fighting a lonely battle against Pak-sponsored terrorism over the decades, Pakistan is taking advantage of the weakness of other nations in terms of men and material and their inability to continue a prolonged fight against statesponsored terrorism coming from Pakistan. In the light of this situation it becomes necessary for all neighbours to fight the menace jointly, either on bilateral basis or multilateral platform. Other members of the SAARC cannot allow the depredations by another of their member. At some point of time they have to join hands to stop the mercenary ways of Pakistan.

It is in this light that the Indian External Affairs Minister’s appeal to like-minded nations to fight the menace makes eminent sense for regional peace, prosperity and progress, the goals the founders of SAARC had set for the organisation at its inception. Time has come for the South Asian nations to isolate countries that have destabilisation of their neighbourhood as their policy agenda. The results will be much better if the fight against the menace becomes a common cause.