Issue BriefsPublished on Sep 14, 2023 PDF Download
ballistic missiles,Defense,Doctrine,North Korea,Nuclear,PLA,SLBM,Submarines

Counter-terrorism in South Asia: New Threats Call for Deeper Cooperation

With the foreign forces drawing down in Afghanistan, there is an inevitable loss of
focus on the threat of terrorism in the highly vulnerable region of South Asia. But almost every
country in the region, barring Bhutan, continues to confront the challenges of terrorism and
insurgency. Yet there appears little sense of the danger posed by terrorism, and its 'new' forms
that ride the wave of technology and the collapse of traditional state structures. The story of
counter-terrorism in the region has been that of individual countries crafting distinct strategies
to deal with a problem which has long ago gone trans-national. Attempts at crafting a regional
approach have not been absent but sporadic and ineffective. This paper argues that the unfolding
new wave of terrorism poses a far greater threat than the countries in South Asia have faced
before and will therefore need a more integrated, regional approach to counter it effectively.

The terrorist threat to South Asia has never been as acute as it is today. The region, home to more than one-third of humanity, has more terrorist groups and terrorists, than any other part of the world. More lives have been lost in this region to terrorist attacks than anywhere else in the world. At least five countries in the region Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives face serious threats from a melange of terrorist groups active in the region and elsewhere. Barring India, the other four face a threat to the very nature of their state if terrorism is not contained.

Two unfolding events in the immediate neighbourhood could greatly enhance the dimension of the threat. One, the US and other western countries have been drawing down their troops from active deployment in Afghanistan. NATO forces departed in December 2014. The US has a much smaller presence in the country than before and is likely to move its troops out over the next two years. Two, West Asia is witnessing a major confrontation between different terrorist forces and countries, taking a heavy toll on lives and property. The conflict has already triggered an unprecedented migration crisis in Europe. The rapid rise of a new terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the reemergence of al-Qaeda in West Asia as well as South Asia, further magnifies the terrorist threats in the region.

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.


Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Joyeeta Bhattacharjee (1975 2021) was Senior Fellow with ORF. She specialised in Indias neighbourhood policy the eastern arch: Bangladeshs domestic politics and foreign policy: border ...

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Wilson John

Wilson John

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