Prime Minister Narendra Modi did the right thing when he harped on the Islamic heritage of India and Central Asia in which terror never had any place. He explained the reason why he touched upon the subject while addressing the students at Nazarbayev University: “We live at the frontier of instability. We live close to the crucible of extremism and terrorism. We see terrorism spawned by nations and groups”. It was not just a lamentation, for he also explained the purpose of his visit to the five Central Asian countries: “We will strengthen defence and security cooperation in the region. We will also combat terrorism by the strength of our values and our commitment to humanism”.
It is not the first time that Modi has referred to India’s Islamic heritage. In September last, while granting an interview to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, he paid tribute to Indian Muslims when he said that they owed their allegiance to India and that terror outfits would never get any cadres from among them. He had every right to say so because, unlike some Muslim young men and women from countries like the US, France, Canada and Britain who took up arms at the call of organisations like Al-Qaeda, Taliban, IS and Boko Haram, they did not get any recruits from India. There has not been a single instance of an Indian’s involvement in any global terrorist attack in the US or Britain or Malaysia. This is despite the fact that India has the world’s second largest Muslim population after Indonesia. Yet, it is also a fact that no other country has suffered as much as India at the hands of terrorists. It is not because of the large Muslim population but due to the export of terror by a neighbouring country that treats it as part of its State policy. Although Modi did not name Pakistan, it was to that country that he referred when he mentioned “terrorism spawned by nations and groups”.
History bears proof that Islam in Central Asia has always spurned terror. However, there are Islamists who want to foment trouble in the region and make it a crucible of terror. India is doing well to tie up with countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in the concerted fight against terror. After all, it was in these countries that the confluence of Indian and Islamic civilisations took place.