Battle-hardened youths returning to their home countries to launch terror attacks after being trained and indoctrinated by IS was a major security concern and central Asian countries must act together to combat the menace, said a top External Affairs Ministry official on Thursday.
Secretary (West) of Ministry of External Affairs Sujata Mehta said the challenge for Central Asian countries was to ensure that moderate views of assimilation and accommodation prevail amid an “onslaught of extremism”.
“Reports suggest that those from Central Asia who have gone to fight for Da’esh (IS) are likely to return to their roots to pursue their sinister agenda back home; there are already signs of Da’esh fighters joining, coordinating and launching terrorist attacks having returned battle-hardened and indoctrinated.
“The challenge for our Central Asian partners is to act to ensure that moderate views of assimilation and accommodation prevail amidst an onslaught of extremism,” she said.
She was speaking at the Fourth India-Central Asia Dialogue organised by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Mehta also said the rise of terror outfit IS has added another dimension to militancy in Central Asia, adding India’s vision for the future cooperation with the countries of the region is “ambitious and at the same time realistic”.
“Today, Central Asia faces some persisting, and some new challenges. Regional security is a continuing concern. The situation in neighbouring Afghanistan, which shares a border with three Central Asian countries, is yet to stabilise.
“Drug trafficking and associated criminal activities have been a bane for the people of this region. The rise of Da’esh (IS) has added another dimension to extremism and militancy in the region,” she said.
The senior MEA official said the current scenario, regionally and internationally, presents immense challenges but also offers potential for India and Central Asia to qualitatively enhance their engagement.
“Both India and Central Asia are factors of peace, stability, growth and development in the region and the world. Stronger relations between us will contribute to increased security and prosperity of these countries and the world.
“The significance of this region in the foreign policy matrix of India cannot be overemphasised and we believe that the security, stability and prosperity of Central Asia is imperative for peace and economic development in India.
“We are each other’s extended neighbourhood and the region has been a priority area of interest for Indian policymakers, practitioners and thinkers,” Mehta added.
She said there was much that both sides can achieve in partnership and that this was a good moment to reflect on the major issues as Central Asian countries mark 25 years of their independence.
“12 experts from Central Asian countries are participating in the dialogue. Overall, over 20 speakers, including those from India, will address different sessions over the two days,” a senior official said.