MP Jo Johnson closed the 3 day Counter Terror and Homeland Security Summit, Securing Asia 2012 on Friday, addressing the vital issue of British business opportunities and interests in the Asian homeland security market. Speaking of the need to address the trade deficit, he cited the importance of improving the export competitiveness of UK firms, by getting them to turn and face more resolutely towards the fast growing Asian markets.
He quoted Foreign Secretary William Hague, speaking in Singapore earlier this year: “Today Britain is looking East as never before…Asia’s rise is good for the world, bringing millions out of poverty, providing new opportunities for global trade and investment, and helping to guard against global security threats.” With Government targets set to double bilateral trade with China, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia within the next five years, substantial rises in the volume of exports are to be expected. Johnson also particularly stressed the importance of improving trade with India, a position from which Britain has slipped significantly in ranking in the last 10 years.
The Summit was opened on 25th June by the Rt. Hon Jack Straw MP, former UK Home and Foreign Secretary, and architect of the Terrorism Act 2000, delivering a sharp and vigorous analysis of ‘The British Experience of Battling Terrorism: Lessons for Asian Policy Makers and Business Opportunities in Asia.’ Straw stressed “the critical issue of how governments balance the imperative of protecting their peoples from the immediate threat of terrorism to their lives and property with wider political action aimed at reducing or neutralising the nature of the threat in the first place.” He qualified the difficulties inherent in branding people or movements as ‘terrorist’ and stressed the need for negotiation where possible, “Even where a military conflict has ended with the unconditional surrender of one side, securing the peace which should follow always requires a negotiated political solution. The same is true of terrorism.” However, he took care to exclude Al Qaeda from this tolerant approach: “….the political and religious objectives of Al Qaeda are so general, and fantastic – to secure and Islamic ‘caliphate’ over much of Asia – that they are an impossible basis for any negotiation.”
Britain’s Minister for Crime and Security, James Brokenshire, speaking at Securing Asia 2012, on the current situation of crime and security threats to the UK and globally, and the Strategies adopted to counter them, highlighted the size of the Pakistani and Indian diaspora in the UK and emphasized the enormous human cost to Pakistan of terrorist actions: “In Pakistan alone, nearly 13,500 civilians and 4,500 security force personnel have been killed in terrorist violence since 2003.”
He went on to contend that “Al Qaeda core is in decline: It is weaker than at any other time since 9/11; it hasn’t conducted a successful attack in the UK since 2005; much of its ideology has been discredited and it has failed in its objectives.”
His excellent dissection of the new face of terrorism and its main drivers of conflict and instability, aspects of modern technology, pervasive ideology, and radicalisation addressed the global threat in the wider geographical regions including the Arab Peninsula as well as Africa.
Former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan, Australia and Cyprus, Mr G Parthasarathy warned that another Mumbai style attack on India cannot be ruled out. He specifically tackled the ‘Challenges of Terrorism in India,’ and warned of the escalated risk from the Taliban and Haqqani networks, if they were to strengthen their hold in Afghanistan following the pull-out from the West. “India would like to cooperate with regional countries and the international community to ensure that Afghan soil does not become a haven for terrorists, who are determined to attack Indian soil and Indian interests abroad. Diplomatic processes to achieve this have to be inclusive and supportive of the democratically elected Government and Parliament in Afghanistan.”
The summit featured record breaking attendance from foreign delegations from across Asia, including representatives from the Defence, Police, Military, and Para-military forces of Nepal, Myanmar, India, Georgia, Oman, Japan, Taiwan, Brunei, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Poland, UAE, Jordan, Somalia, and Bangladesh, among others.