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India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka stare at terror surge as Taliban advances in Afghanistan

Terror threats increasing as Taliban makes rapid inroads

South Asian countries including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives are bracing for a terror surge as the Taliban rapidly increases its grip within Afghanistan. Uncertainty and terror threats across the globe have risen significantly but vulnerability in the South Asian region, which was just beginning to come out of the Covid 19 pandemic, has particularly increased.

Sources said that India must immediately increase its vigil.

“India must increase its vigil immediately since the issue of Kashmir is always going to be at the core. We need to keep in mind that Jammu and Kashmir are going through a transition at this point and we cannot let radical elements creep in,” BK Singh, former joint commissioner of Delhi Police, said.

According to the Diplomat, for decades, India has had a security policy that is preoccupied with its north (China) and west (Pakistan). More or less, India has had no major terrorist and internal security challenge from its neighbours to the east and south. “However, there is an emerging strategic change that now seems to challenge India’s security from these directions,” it said.

Also read: Bangladesh clergy issues statement against leaders of Hefazat-e-Islam

Foreign policy watchers told India Narrative that with the changing scenario in war-ravaged country, Bangladesh, which has made significant progress in weeding out radicalism under the country's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, could be “undone”.

The Diplomat report further said that with the ascendency of the Taliban, Bangladesh faces increased risks. “Bangladesh is already in the midst of a re-emergence of fundamentalist Islamic nationalism, which began in the early 2010s with the Awami League government’s execution of Jamaat-e-Islami’s Islamist leaders,” it said.

Over the last few months, the Hasina administration has been cracking down on members of the radical ISI-backed Islamic extremists of the Hefazat e Islam (HeI). Besides, the hanging of the war criminals of the 1971 Liberation War has not been taken too kindly by the radical elements. But with the Taliban advancing, some Bangladeshi scholars fear that HeI will be emboldened to fight for a theocratic state in the country on the footsteps of a Talibanised Afghanistan. “They seek to destroy our culture and replace it with a clone of the Taliban state in Afghanistan, where women are prisoners in their homes. Hefazat, like the Taliban, seeks to turn women into second-class citizens and reverse all the gains women have made in this country, “ writes Mahir Abrar, who teaches in the American International University-Bangladesh in Dhaka Tribune.

Bangladesh was ranked 33rd out of a total of 163 countries by the Global Terrorism Index by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) last year.

In Sri Lanka too the situation has been changing with the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings. And the subsequent imposition on the ban on the Burqa.

Also read: Hasina's assault on radicals crucial for peace and development in India and South Asia

Sri Lankan newspaper Daily News acknowledges that most radical groups in Sri Lanka were influenced by Taliban “and many terrorists had allegedly taken part in Taliban Training camps.” The daily also pointed out that apart from terror groups, Taliban’s ascendancy will “once again motivate extremist political Islam organisations such as Bangladesh’s Jamat e lslam, Hefajat-e-Islam and Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Labbaik”.

“It is unfortunate, especially as the South Asian nations were coming together in focusing on boosting connectivity and economic co-operation. While the focus on the economy would remain, such terror threats can delay or derail concrete plans,” a foreign policy watcher told India Narrative.