EFSAS holds meetings with Professors, Scholars and Researchers in London
Representing the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), Ms. Yoana Barakova and Ms. Danielle DePaulis (Research Analysts at EFSAS) traveled to London to meet experts on counter-terrorism and researchers on various issues regarding the South Asian region. EFSAS met with several leading research organizations, professors and scholars. The meetings proved fruitful as much knowledge was gained and many viewpoints deliberated, as well as partnerships bridged, and possible beginnings of co-events discussed.
Ms. Yoana Barakova and Ms. Danielle DePaulis (both EFSAS) with Mr. Rahul Roy-Chaudhury and Mr. Viraj Solanki (both IISS)
EFSAS conducted a meeting with the Senior Fellow for South Asia at The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Mr. Rahul Roy-Chaudhury and Mr. Viraj Solanki, who is a Research Analyst within the Institute’s South Asia Program. Mr. Roy- Chaudhury’s expertise lies in India’s domestic politics, elections, security policies, and India-Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. Mr. Solanki’s focus is on India’s foreign and security policy and counter-terrorism strategies in South Asia, including Afghanistan. The researchers from IISS, briefed EFSAS on the outstanding work of IISS and how it proposes ideas to manage the various conflicts in South Asia. Mr. Roy-Chaudhury and Mr. Solanki both agreed that there would be no bold government initiatives for peace from Pakistan until after Imran Khan’s term is over, as the military remains a key stakeholder. Mr. Roy-Chaudhury and Mr. Solanki stressed that the best approach to achieve peace in the area are talks with all representatives from South Asia, as according to them the issues are not bilateral, but have become increasingly multilateral.
Ms. Yoana Barakova and Ms. Danielle DePaulis (both EFSAS) with Mr. Raffaello Pantucci and Mr. Aaditya Dave (both RUSI)
Ms. Yoana Barakova and Ms. Danielle DePaulis also met a delegation of skilled researchers from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), comprising of Mr. Raffaello Pantucci and Mr. Aaditya Dave. Mr. Pantucci, Director of International Security Studies at RUSI, focuses on counter-terrorism and China’s relations with its Western neighbors. Mr. Dave, a Research Analyst for RUSI, focuses on South Asia, inclusive of regional security, conflict resolution, Chinese engagement in South Asia, and reconciliation. Roots of terrorism in South Asia and possible focuses in terms of finding solutions were thoroughly discussed including one of the main issues, which is that of accountability; when accountability is missing, it can lead to a situation where some might feel the need to ‘take matters into their own hands’. This seems to be a repeating pattern for the cause of a lot of extremism and violence in South Asia and fuels a more political turn. Both researchers agreed that solutions can only begin when governments in the region start to take accountability, acknowledge problems and begin engagements. As a solution until this does happen, Mr. Pantucci and Mr. Dave discussed the attention on civilians in the region. Secondly, much work needs to be done in Pakistan on the judiciary so that accountability can be acquired through this avenue and the military does not ‘feel the need’ to step in.
Ms. Yoana Barakova (EFSAS) with Mr. Charlie Winter, Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization
A meeting was also held with Mr. Charlie Winter, Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) at King’s College London. In addition, Mr. Winter is an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in the Hague and an Associate of the Imperial War Museum Institute in London. Mr. Winter’s specialization is terrorism and insurgency, specifically online and offline strategic communication. He examines how militant groups cultivate creative approaches to governances and war. The meeting with Mr. Winter centered around how terrorism is spreading into the region and the growing use of social media in this regard. Mr. Winter stated that the hotspot is not simply linear and confirmed it is the most potent in Afghanistan and this is demonstrated by accelerating attacks possibly due to the deterioration of ISIS’ presence in Syria and Iraq and the bubble effect of the group now shifting into other areas, like Jammu & Kashmir. Even though ISIS may be losing territory, the organization is still winning the competition; they do not require a lot of land in order to be potent. Mr. Winter said that there are two levels to the use of propaganda of terrorist groups: one, to build up local support, and two, to develop a hierarchy and global operations. Online propaganda does not necessarily recruit users, but keeps potential recruits active and up to date. EFSAS expressed its wish to bring Mr. Winter on board as an EFSAS Research Fellow and will be inviting him soon to accept this offer and continue sharing his invaluable expertise with EFSAS.
Lastly, a meeting about radicalization theory was held with Dr. John Morrison, Director of the Terrorism and Extremism Research Centre (TERC) at the University of East London. He also leads a podcast titled “Talking Terror”. This meeting was useful in understanding the underbelly of terrorist movements and momentums as Dr. Morrison posed interesting questions that need to be answered when trying to tackle the issue of Terrorism: “What is the definition of success for us when trying to stop terrorism?” and “What are reasons for engagement at the local level?”
According to Mr. Morrison, asking these questions is crucial when contemplating and formulating policies in order to combat terrorism. Through the answers that follow, one can begin to assess the tools to be used and develop evaluations, which inevitably leads to a better understanding of the issue at every level. EFSAS expressed its wish to keep in touch with Dr. Morrison for future events and also extended him an offer to join its Fellowship Program to share his interesting research on radicalization.