Amid the ongoing debate on presence of IS in Bangladesh, Indian Army officer, Lt General Syed Ata Hasnain on Tuesday said he does not see presence of IS in Bangladesh, or even in India and Pakistan ‘in a big way.’
“I wouldn’t say the Islamic States (IS) is in Bangladesh any big way, it’s not even in India. I would say not even in Pakistan in a big way,” he said while responding to a question after delivering his lecture on ‘Counter Terrorism Challenges in South Asia.’
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) arranged the event at its auditorium with BIISS Chairman Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad in the chair. BIISS Director General Maj Gen AKM Abdur Rahman also spoke.
Describing happenings in other parts of the world, General Hasnain said what is happening here in Bangladesh, partially in India and Pakistan may be initial ‘feelers’ on how it can be done here and if it can be done at all.
Branding himself as a patriotic, professional and diehard crazy Indian army officer, he said Bangladesh is the “least-threatened” State in South Asia and is less vulnerable compared to Pakistan.
“Physically Bangladesh is less vulnerable and it is the gateway to South East Asia. That is an important aspect that one needs to keep in mind,” Hasnain said.
He listed three major things to address - leadership, finance and ideology for controlling terrorism.
“Ideology is very important. That’s what our concern today is in South Asia. It’s a major concern in Bangladesh and India. This is your concern. This is our concern, too. We’re all worried about all aspects of radicalization,” said Hasnain, whose father was also a General Officer of the Indian Army.
He said if these three things are countered well, terrorism can be controlled.
General Hasnain, an extensively experienced officer in handling of turbulent situations across the spectrum of conflict, laid emphasis on strengthening the anti-terror group of SAARC, eradicating safe heavens for terror groups, preventing use of territory and international cooperation apart from following international norms, human rights to counter terror.
He said issues like sub-national or minority alienation, faith in extremist ideology, ignorance, lack of education, employment
opportunities, proxy cross-border interest, safe havens for drugs, illicit trade of arms and other factors facilitate terrorism.
General Hasnain, whose track record in the United Nations operations in Mozambique and Rwanda won him international acclaim and the first of his decorations, the Vishisht Seva Medal, also said flawed ideas of victory lead to faulty conflict stabilization leading to persistence of conflict rather than conflict termination.
Shedding light on social media revolution, he said there should be strong counter cyber efforts and partnership among media, institutions and think tanks.
General Hasnain said political maturity and media handling is crucial and all must follow democratic process and development. “The State must not be seen to be the victor against its own people.”
Describing the state of terror in individual nation, he said Bangladesh is relatively successful in countering radicalization and violence.
He also said the entire world appreciates Bangladesh’s counter terrorism efforts and even countries like India can take lesson from Bangladesh.
General Hasnain said the roles of general police are ignored in countering terrorism but they are the local beat police and know many things. “They need to be empowered as they know every happening. They can’t be ignored.”
Responding to a question on involvement of intelligence agencies from Pakistan and India in creating groups in Bangladesh, he said they might have their own interest to get information.
He also said terrorist knows no religion and ideology. “They don’t look at tomorrow, they look at today.”