Does the West care about the Islamist threat to India?

"All countries have to work harder together including India, the US and UK to fight this kind of terrorism around the world wherever it is,” Britain’s Minister of Culture, Sajid Javid says.

A masked man speaking in what is believed to be a North American accent in a video that Islamic State fighters released in September 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A masked man speaking in what is believed to be a North American accent in a video that Islamic State fighters released in September 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In a recent interview to Indian newspaper The Hindu, Britain’s Minister of Culture, Media and Sports Sajid Javid argued that "open societies" such as New Delhi, London and Washington DC should work more closely to fight terrorism. He said organizations like the Islamic State have been recruiting young European and British nationals through various means, including the Internet. He also warned that if any British citizens “go and engage in terrorist activities,” his government “will come down” on them “severely.” 
Expressing concerns over the spread of Islamist terrorism and its brutality, Javid was quoted as saying: “It is incumbent on all these countries to find out what is driving these people to go to foreign countries and rape or kill people there. The UN Secretary General [Ban Ki-moon] has rightly said that bombs can fight and kill terrorists, but they can’t kill terrorism. All countries have to work harder together including India and the US and UK to fight this kind of terrorism around the world wherever it is.”
Washington DC and New Delhi are officially talking along the same lines today. The Indo-US joint statement, issued during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent US visit, talks of the renewal of the strategic partnership and “joint and concerted efforts” to dismantle terror groups, including al-Qaida, Lashkar-e Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the D-Company, and the Haqqanis.” An agreement reached between their counter-terrorism organizations during this visit is that the mechanism of Indo-US counter-terrorism that came into being after the Mumbai attacks (2008) must be advanced further. They must particularly exchange information on their respective citizens who may be going off to Syria, Iraq and other hot spots.
Pertinently, New Delhi has been talking of collective action against terrorism since long ago. In harmony with this traditional policy, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval said at the Munich Security Group meeting, organized by a New Delhi-based think tank on October 21, that the three major challenges in dealing with security threats were invisible “cyber” enemies, outdated intelligence-gathering techniques and a disunited approach to tackling terror. He suggested it was time to work on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already made a call at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Doval added that the convention, first proposed by the National Democratic Alliance regime in 2001, had been held up by countries such as Pakistan which would not agree to describe groups they wanted to call “freedom fighters” as terrorists.  But “those days, no one saw India’s point of view on Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Osama bin Laden’s capture in Pakistan has changed that.” 
All talk of joint action against Islamist terrorism makes sense. Islamist terrorism poses a serious threat to the entire civilized world today.  Its influence has been spreading the world over. According to reports, at least 400 of the approximately 15,000 foreign IS fighters today are from the United Kingdom. The number of teenage girls and women traveling abroad as “IS brides” from Britain is growing.  Hundreds of American citizens have joined the IS. India has been tracking more than 20 of its citizens who have gone over to fight for IS.  In such as situation New Delhi, Washington DC and London must well be thinking to cooperate with each other and take care of the Islamist elements before the latter may return back home to pose any possible threat to the home countries only.
I am all for New Delhi, London and Washington DC to come together and join action against the jihadists. I am, however, not sure if the governments in the United States and United Kingdom are really serious about any such multi-lateral cooperation to curb terrorism today. The western governments still seem to be thinking in terms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorism. Until recently, the US, UK and France had helped IS by funding, training and equipping the so-called ‘moderate’ rebels against the Syrian regime. It is these moderates who have joined the IS with their weapons. Even today the West does not seem to be fully against IS. Its main goal is said to be to link Qatar’s natural gas fields to Europe and curtail Russia’s politico-economic leverage.
Besides, the West seems to care a fig about the Islamist threat India has been faced within its own region. The whole world knows what jihadists based in Pakistan have been doing for a long time now. There is a near consensus across the Indian strategic community that the root cause of terror in India has been Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence (ISI).  India’s former defense secretary and current Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, N N Vohra recently said, "jihadi terrorism has been progressively spreading its reach” with the activities of the Indian Mujahidin  “growing.”  India’s hinterland continues “to remain the prime focus of Pakistan- based terror groups, particularly LeT and IM.” The ISI has been “striving to resurrect Sikh militancy in Punjab by supporting the establishment of terror modules from among militants in the Sikh Diaspora” and “pressurizing Sikh militant groups to join hands with the Kashmir-centric militant outfits.”
India’s National Investigation Agency recently told a trial court that Pakistan’s ISI has been in contact with top operatives of the banned Indian Mujahideen and provided shelter to its members as part of a larger conspiracy to carry out terror activities across the country. Yet the West seems to be looking the other way, perhaps imagining the ISI might be encouraging a version of Islamist terrorism friendly to the West!
The author is a senior Indian journalist based in New Delhi.