ASIA’s SECURITY SCENARIO
By Maroof Raza
Facets of Asian Threats & Terrorism
• The first is of indigenous origin, driven by poor governance,
corruption, ethnic inequalities, denominational differences, a sense of
persecution and in some cases as a ‘state sponsored’ menace.
(Examples: India’s Maoists movement, Pakistan’s Pashtun disaffection
and persecution of the Balochis; the anti Sunni stance of the Iranian
Governments; ethnic disparities in Central Asia; China’s persecution
of ethnic and religious sections, and the Sunni-Shia divide and
intolerance of Wahabi culture in Saudi Arabia).
• Secondly, tansnational terrorism is being used by some as an
instrument of policy by certain powers. For example: Pakistan’s
support for terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir and terrorist attacks
on India cities, such as Mumbai; US/Israeli support and use of
Jundullah to undermine Iranian Government; Iranian support for the
uprising in Bahrain; acts of terrorism against Israel supported by an
assortment of Arab States; Pakistani support of the Taliban in the war
in Afghanistan; Al-Qaeda’s Pan Islamic designs against many
countries such as India, and most Central Asian Republics.
The Threat of Terrorism
• Terrorism impacts the stability and unity of a country, and is much larger than other
traditional law and order issues. Terrorist organisations have taken control of the major
drug producing areas in Asia (Afghanistan and South-East Asia) that provides the means
to finance their strategy and operations. This makes them inter-dependent on prevailing
organised crime syndicates. In exchange, terrorist organisations provide organised crime
syndicates protection and sanctuary from security agencies, thus dangerously
undermining the stability and internal security of the countries in which they operate.
• The deeply entrenched terrorist and organised crime nexus in Asia has serious
repercussions on the ability of states to manage their internal security problems. A
benign security environment is crucial to attract and deploy investment that furthers
national growth. To achieve this, Asian states are constrained to create and deploy a
large law and order apparatus that causes exceptional strains on national budgets. For
example China spent more on police and domestic surveillance in 2011 than its defence
budget, a phenomenon that is fast spreading even into the robust Asian economic
• In Asia, unlike the Western democracies, the military is generally deployed to tackle
highly organised terrorist organisations. In the Philippines and Indonesia it is felt that the
military’s role should increase to help restore order in the midst of domestic disorder.
Bangladesh, China, India, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and most
Central Asian States have committed their militaries to suppress and eliminate terrorism.
Confronting Terrorism in Asia
• However, just eliminating terrorism is not sufficient to create a stable internal security
environment. Simultaneous action is required to eliminate elements that engender
circumstances for the rise of terrorist groups. These fall into four primary categories:
a) First is the imperative to eradicate organized crime, in all its manifestations.
b) Second, carry out reforms to improve social, economic and political institutions.
c) Third, review national doctrines to maintain law and order and reorganize and
modernize judicial and police forces to effectively deal with law and order issues.
d) Fourth, is the area of non-traditional security threats, in non-military sources, such as,
cross-border environmental degradation and resource depletion, infectious diseases,
natural disasters, irregular migration, food shortages, and other forms of trans-national
• There is a steady broadening of factors that has to be taken into account by a state in
formulating and executing security policy. Other domestic agencies involved today in
internal security management include the media, public opinion, and think tanks. These
are secondary factors but increasingly influential in security-policy making.
• The growing security threats to China and India, the two Asian giants, requires special
attention as the stability and industrial progress of Asia largely depends on the stability
of these two countries and the influence they may have on the security environment of
Asia is greatly shaped by their policies towards each other and their regional alignments.
For the purposes of this study, Asia has been divided into: a) North Asian, (b) Southeast
Asia, (c) South Asia, (d) Central Asia and (e) West Asia.
NORTH EAST ASIA:
• COUNTRIES: China, Mongolia, North Korea, South
Korea, Japan, Taiwan
• Although North Asia has some of the most developed
nations in the world (Japan, South Korea and Taiwan), its
less developed states (North Korea) are plagued by poor
governance, corruption, a sense of persecution, and ethnic
inequalities in its population.
• Whereas the more affluent states witness organized crime
by transnational groups, intra-regional relations are uneasy
because of China’s aggressive policies. Terrorism could
also manifests in North-East Asia most visibly by Islamic
South East Asia: Threats
• Southeast Asia is geographically divided into two sub-regions:
Mainland Southeast Asia (or Indochina) comprising Cambodia, Laos,
Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia; and Maritime
Southeast Asia comprising East Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia,
Philippines, Singapore and East Timor.
• The primary factors that threaten regional security and stability are :
Diverse ethnicity, terrorism, secessionism, insurgencies, piracy,
extraordinary maritime centric ungoverned spaces, inadequacy of state
machinery to cope with aberrations in prevailing law and order
situation, drug-trafficking and related national and trans-national
• Terrorists groups such as the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) have flourished,
often using conflict territories as safe havens to establish their training
camps and bases of support. So much so, that the 9/11 Commission
Report designated Southeast Asia as a terrorist sanctuary, and a second
front in the US Global War on Terror (GWOT).
S.E. Asia :Insurgencies
• Most South East Asian states are ripe for and are experiencing
insurgencies aimed at overthrowing the constituted government
through the use of subversion and armed conflict.
• Guerrilla warfare, intermittent conventional military methods, and
terror tactics are employed to gain control of territory and the populace
in order to create liberated zones and establish a counter-state. South
East Asian insurgents utilise the space provided by the many
ungoverned territories to achieve their objectives by undermining state
and regional security.
• The region is inundated by poorly controlled land or maritime borders
because of which, the central government’s authority is eroded
dangerously or does not extend to parts of the country. Consequently
these are either conducive to insurgent or terrorist presence, or are
ungovernable areas where despite the structures of state authority, they
tend to remain outside the jurisdiction of the government, especially in
their maritime extended economic zones
South Asia: Battles Within
• Long running secessionist movements have vitiated stability in states and of
the region, such as: Kashmiri separatism in India’s Jammu & Kashmir;
Balochistan and Pashtun problems in Pakistan; until recently the Sinhala-
Tamil clashes in Sri Lanka ,and the Khalistan movement in Punjab in India in
• These internal conflicts challenge the region’s economic viability, and
seriously undermine the social conditions necessary to ensure stability. They
lead to problems such as human rights violations, displacement and poverty
that engender further escalation of violence.
• The more recent turmoil in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region (Af-Pak) is
significant in the larger context of internal security and stability of the region.
Since 1947, Afghanistan has demanded that the NWFP must become a part of
an independent “Pashtunistan”. All official Afghanistan maps depict the area
between the Khyber Pass and the Indus River including Baluchistan as
“Pashtunistan”. This dispute poses a potential threat to the stability of the
region, beyond the current instability and the NATO versus Taliban fights in
Central Asia: Stability & Security
• The management of internal security and stability of the Central Asian states
is undermined by external pressures engendered by its significant geo-
strategic location. It is the hub that connects the strategic interests of three
major global powers: the US, China and Russia, and the newly emerging Pan-
Islamic aspirations of the Muslim countries located to its South. The
abundance of strategic energy reserves and subsurface strategic resources in
and around the region; shift of the US strategic security focus from Europe to
Asia; westward expansion of NATO; unstable nature of Southern Russia and
western provinces of China; the predominantly Muslim composition of the
peoples; all contribute to increasing international interference, which vitiates
the internal security and stability of the Central Asian states.
• Creating a common regional security architecture is difficult for a number of
reasons: first, the Central Asian states perceive threats to their security and
stability differently and apply disparate approaches to mitigate them; second;
some threats are country specific and require individual, not collective
responses; third, the nature and intensity of external threats are unequal;
fourth, disparate military and law and order systems and structures preclude a
common security structure; fifth; incongruence in socioeconomic security are
difficult to balance; and, sixth, intra-regional rivalry has yet to be contained
sufficiently to generate the levels of trust necessary for a common regional
Anti Russia Terror Group/US nato operation in Afghanistan
US NATO operation in Afghanistan
Chians Xinxiang region & Taliban in afpack region
West Asia: Terror Threats
• Countries in the region: Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia,
Syria, Armenia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Qatar, United
Arab Republics, Israel and Egypt (only partially)
• Terrorist groups in the Middle East have diverse origins, ideologies,
and organisational structures, but can be roughly classified as
traditional and new generation groups.
• The former, such as the PLO, date back to the 1960-70s era, are
relatively bureaucratic, maintain a nationalist agenda, and are partly
supported by states such as Syria, Libya, and Iran. The new-generation
groups of the 1980-90s eras are flexible and hold a radical Islamic
ideology, such as Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ),
Hezbollah, Algeria’s Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the Egyptian
Islamic Group (IG), and Al Qaeda are the most active terrorist
organisations in and around the region.