Experts from India and Pakistan are attending a three-day ‘Asian Homeland Security and Counter-terror Summit’ amid concerns that many countries of the region, including India, are not fully equipped, either in terms of trained manpower or modern weapon systems, to deal with growing security threats.
Pathikrit Payne of Security-Watch India, organisers of the summit that started here on Monday, said that after the Mumbai attacks, the Indian Government had “woken up” to the need to strengthen its counter-terror infrastructure, and there were signs of “a structural shift happening in India’s internal security architecture.”
Modernising India’s police force, comprising some 2.8 million personnel, was “a daunting challenge” and required massive investment in technology needed to deal with threats to internal security, he said.
Billed as “the first initiative of its kind” to bring counter-terror experts, decision-makers, academics and diplomats under one roof, the summit will focus on the “needs and challenges” of Asian homeland security in the age of terror.
Those slated to speak include G. Parthasarathy, former High Commissioner to Pakistan, who will share India’s experience with terrorism, and how it intends to cope with new challenges; Sunil Khilnani, Director of the King’s College London’s India Institute; Maleeha Lodhi, former ambassador of Pakistan to America and Britain; and Stephen Cohen, well-known South Asian expert at Brookings Institute.
Though dressed up as a brainstorming exercise — Tory MP Patrick Mercer described it as a forum for “swapping intellectual ideas” — the summit is really designed to boost global weapons trade in the emerging Asian markets, as countries in the region step up spending on homeland security due to fears of increased terror threats.
India’s current annual spending on internal security — estimated around 17 to 18 billion dollars — is expected to go up significantly in the coming years, making it one of the most sought-after markets in Asia for western weapons suppliers.
Promised exposure to “a market estimated at $1 trillion during the next seven years,” suppliers are working overtime to pitch their products to potential buyers.