Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2009

Countering Terrorism in South Asia: Strengthening Multilateral Engagement

Eric Rosand, Naureen Chowdhury Fink, Jason Ipe

May 2009

International Peace Institute


Horrific acts of terrorism, such as the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, underscore the regional nature of the terrorist threat in South Asia, and they highlight the need for greater cooperation within the region to address it. This report explores ways to strengthen such cooperation, with a particular focus on the role that the United Nations can play in this regard. It urges the United Nations to build on the international community’s solidarity in the wake of terrorist attacks—such as those recently in Islamabad, Lahore, and Mumbai—to forge stronger engagement between the United Nations and South Asia on counterterrorism and within the region itself. This report outlines the different manifestations of the terrorist threat in the region and some of the underlying drivers of that violence. Terrorism and political violence are not new challenges in South Asia. Such tactics have long been used by groups espousing a wide variety of causes, including national self-determination or separatism, both right- and left-wing politics, and militant religious extremism.