Quad Initiatives against Terrorism
Aayush Mohanty, Research Associate, VIF

The idea of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), floated by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007, was for Japan to work together with the US, India and Australia to enhance the values of democracy. While addressing the Indian parliament in 2007, he laid out his vision of the “Confluence of Two Seas” wherein he drew India and Japan’s historical connections and pushed for a “Broader Asia” thereby reviving the maritime roots of the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. The idea lay dormant for a decade. But the members of Quad met in Manila in 2017 to re-lay the foundations of a forum which can be seen as cooperation of the four democratic nation states who emphasise on rule of law. The recent events in the Indian sub-continent is an opportunity for the forum to expand its focus beyond freedom of navigation and a rule based maritime order to larger rule-based peaceful inter-state conduct.

At every step, terrorism has been identified as a scourge for the world order. The statements regarding terrorism, no matter from what part of the world, largely come from major powers and institutions like the United Nations and regional bodies. While these statements are essential to reinforce the fight against terrorism, unfortunately, they do not filter down to the instruments of terrorism such as terror camps, terror financing and other sources that makes terrorism possible. The strategy behind the tactics used by certain countries who sponsor terrorism is to counter their adversary who are superior militarily and financially. In Pakistan’s case, it uses asymmetric warfare to achieve parity with India and promote extremist and separatist forces.

The recent attack perpetrated by Pakistan based terrorist outfit was succeeded by a visit of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan where he pledged 20 billion USD as an investment into its cash strapped economy, thus indicating that Pakistan was not diplomatically isolated. 1 Pakistan’s all-weather friend, the People’s Republic China, while condemning the attack in J&K has so far refused to put Masood Azhar in the UN Global Terror List.2 The refusal by China, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, should be the flashpoint for Quad to come up with a joint statement3, calling on China to take proper action against its ally and the terrorists it sponsors, and play its expected role as a leader in the Security Council.

Afghanistan, Pakistan’s neighbour, has condemned the attacks, with the acting Interior Minister saying that it fits the modus operandi of any terror attack that is perpetrated by Pakistan based terror outfits operating in Afghanistan.4 Almost ten days after the attack in Pulwama, J&K, the Indian Government, the Australians5 and the Americans have also called on Pakistan to act against terror outfits operating out of its soil.6 The Indian Air Force conducted bombing raids against Jaish–e-Mohammad training centres inside Pakistan. The retaliatory action has been seen as ‘right of self defense’ and pre-emptive action has not drawn any diplomatic flak. The members of the Quad should use this as an opportunity to come out with a joint statement which can finally enable the Quad to come of age.
Compared to the other members, India’s security complexities range from terror camps being cultivated on the western side of the border while on the northern, there is constant nibbling of Indian Territory. Both these neighbours are nuclear and in alliance. The members of the Quad need to work together to come out with a joint statement which re-affirms not just their commitment to free and open high seas but also against elements which threaten the liberal values and rule of law that are foundational for a peaceful international order and unity of states, especially democracies.

A dialogue between India and Pakistan currently seems improbable as Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan made it clear that while he would like to resolve the Kashmir issue but would only do it after 2019 General Elections in India.7 India, on the other hand, is not keen to take any step towards any dialogue until Pakistan consciously starts prosecuting Pak-based terror groups and their leaders which operate beyond the border and the Line of Control. Cutting economic, and cultural ties with Pakistan will have some impact, but beyond that, it is crucial to mount pressure on Pakistan not just bilaterally but internationally. The Quad would hence play an important role in that. The Trump administration has already made its views clear on Pakistan’s inaction on state-bred terrorism.8 A joint statement will re-affirm the fact that Quad is not just pushing for a code of conduct in Indo-Pacific but also stands firmly against terrorists, terrorism and those who sponsor them as a part of state policy in the region.

Along with a joint statement, the Indian Navy should push for conducting the Malabar Exercises with the Quad partners in the Arabian Sea. The US and Japan already participate in the Malabar Exercise and India will have to only invite Australia. Malabar Exercise is the only other military exercise along with Rim of Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) where Quad members meet. The push by the Indian Navy to conduct the exercises will also help further the argument that the Arabian Sea is as much important for India’s security as the Bay of Bengal is. The stakes for India on its western coasts are high as most of its energy requirement comes through the Arabian Sea and that a large Indian diaspora lives and works in the Gulf and West Asia. 9 The Malabar Exercises were renewed in light of the September 11 attacks when India put its weight behind the US-led global war on terror and the exercise have been held in the Arabian Sea before shifting to the Bay of Bengal 10. What’s more, the name of the exercise will not be affected as the Malabar Coast lies on the Western Ghats alongside Arabian Sea.11 The US therefore should have little reason to be diffident.

The Quad could also use this as an opportunity to include France as a part of the security dialogue. France and India regularly hold naval exercise known as ‘Varuna’ which is held in the Arabian Sea. France has also started to move a proposal at the UNSC to ban Mashood Azhar and his terror outfit. 12 The initiative by France, backed by US and UK, makes it a reliable partner for the security dialogue. Exercises on the Arabian Sea would also make India’s case to the US to expand the definition of Indo-Pacific to include the Arabian Sea. Indeed, Australia and Japan already agree with India’s idea of the Indo-Pacific to extend upto the Eastern Coast of Africa. The reluctance from the US might be because of the difference of operational command of US Central Command (CENTCOM) and Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), wherein Arabian Sea comes under the jurisdiction of the former.

The expectation is not that the next round of Malabar Exercises to be held later this year be moved to the west coast of India, as the preparations for it must already be underway and involves diplomatic clearances along with logistical movements for all the stakeholders involved. But subsequent exercises can be held there. A joint statement by Quad and a multilateral military exercise like Malabar can be more effective than just the bilateral pressures and would create a strategic footprint. Pakistan will be put on notice that their transgressions will always be checked and met with resistance.

  1. "Saudi Arabia Signs 20 Billion USD in Agreements with Pakistan." ANN. February 19, 2019. Accessed February 2019. https://asianews.network/2019/02/19/saudi-arabia-signs-20-billion-usd-in-agreements-with-pakistan/.
  2. PTI. "China Again Says No to Back India's Bid to List JeM Chief Azhar as Global Terrorist by UN." The Economic Times. February 15, 2019. Accessed February 2019. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/china-again-says-no-to-back-indias-bid-to-list-jem-chief-azhar-as-global-terrorist-by-un/articleshow/68006847.cms.
  3. Ambassador (Retd.) Prabhat P.Shukla, Member of Advisory Council, Vivekananda International Foundation.
  4. Asian News International. "Pulwama Attack a 'copy-paste' of Pak-backed Terror in Afghanistan: Acting Interior Minister." Https://www.hindustantimes.com/. February 15, 2019. Accessed February 2019. https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/pulwama-attack-a-copy-paste-of-pak-backed-terror-in-afghanistan-acting-interior-minister/story-88OAVkHqYEvvvdGG5iIHLJ.html.
  5. Chaudhary, Dipanjan Roy. "China Cautious, Australia Urges Pakistan to Act against Terror." The Economic Times. February 27, 2019. Accessed February 2019. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/china-cautious-australia-urges-pakistan-to-act-against-terror/articleshow/68178208.cms.
  6. "US Asks Pakistan to Urgently Take Meaningful Action against Terror Outfits on Its Soil." India Today. February 27, 2019. Accessed February 2019. https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/us-asks-pakistan-to-take-meaningful-action-against-terror-outfits-in-its-soil-1465947-2019-02-27.
  7. "US Asks Pakistan to Urgently Take Meaningful Action against Terror Outfits on Its Soil." India Today. February 27, 2019. Accessed February 2019. https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/us-asks-pakistan-to-take-meaningful-action-against-terror-outfits-in-its-soil-1465947-2019-02-27.
  8. Rajghatta, Chidanand. "Trump Bluntly Tells Pakistan to End Terrorism - Times of India." The Times of India. February 15, 2019. Accessed February 2019. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/trump-bluntly-tells-pakistan-to-end-terrorism/articleshow/68015603.cms.
  9. Abrams, Corinne. "This Map Shows Where India's Huge Diaspora Lives." The Wall Street Journal. January 20, 2016. Accessed February 2019. https://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2016/01/19/india-has-worlds-biggest-diaspora-and-this-map-shows-where-they-are/.
  10. "South Asia | India, US Hold Naval Exercises." BBC News. October 05, 2003. Accessed February 2019. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3165228.stm.
  11. Col. Shubhankar Basu, Senior Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation.
  12. PTI. "France to Move Proposal at U.N. to Ban JeM Chief Masood Azhar." The Hindu. February 19, 2019. Accessed February 2019. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/france-to-move-proposal-at-un-to-ban-jem-chief-masood-azhar/article26313201.ece.

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