Religion & Security in South Asia

(19-22 August 2002)[1]





            Religious radicalism undoubtedly merits classification among the most serious challenges currently confronting U.S. security policy pertaining to the South Asian region. It was a major problem in most of the South Asian countries even before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. There are plausible grounds for thinking that this problem may have worsened in the nearly one year that has passed since then. This problem presents itself today as a challenge to domestic policy makers in most of the seven countries of South Asia; it presents itself also as a challenge at the levels of regional and international security policy.


            To examine the problem of religious radicalism in the South Asian region, the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies held a conference titled “Religion & Security in South Asia” from 19 to 22 August 2002. The conference focused on the three (3) largest countries of the region – India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The conference brought together senior policy makers, defense officials, journalists, intelligence analysts, NGO activists, and leading academics concerned with South Asia to discuss issues in connection with the South Asian region’s religious radicalism. The specific objective was to advance policymakers’ understanding of the relationship between religious radicalism and security in this region, and thus to improve their capacity to fashion security policies appropriate to the challenges of religious radicalism in the present period. Thirty-eight (38) delegates representing six (6) nations (Bangladesh, Denmark, India, Pakistan, Thailand, United States) participated in this conference.


            Among the major conclusions of this conference:












[1] Prepared by Robert G. Wirsing, Satu Limaye, and Mohan Malik, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.