Support forces against terror groups in Pakistan: Norway minister


New Delhi : The threat of terror groups taking over Pakistan is “a very big issue,” Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said Monday. He called for global support to democratic forces in that country to prevent terrorists from gaining control of its nuclear weapons.

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Inaugurating a seminar on “Strategic Planning for a Complex World” here, Eide said the that the real issues the West deals with in Afghanistan in the war on terror was more related to Pakistan.

“The prospects of Jihadi take-over in Pakistan…the least we do is to follow a strategy to prevent that from happening. That (take over) can happen and it has to be through a strong engagement with those in Pakistan who are trying to prevent that we can re-establish some kind of decent democratic and civilian control. It is a very big issue,” Eide said.

The event was organised by the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and the Norwegian Institute of Defence Studies (NIDS) here.

“You are very concerned and we are very concerned. Our primary military engagement in the world is in Afghanistan and it is very much related to the Pakistani dynamics. So we will support (efforts to prevent Jihadi take over of Pakistan) it very closely,” he said in reply to questions from participants.

Eide noted that he need not emphasise to an Indian audience the dangers of terrorism, particularly in neighbouring Pakistan.

“The West’s focus on Afghanistan has gradually turned into what in American lingo is called the ‘Af-Pak’ (Afghanistan-Pakistan). It then became Pak-Af (Pakistan-Afghanistan) and now it is increasingly Pak-Pak (Pakistan-Pakistan).

“I think that is a recognition that the real issues we are dealing with in Afghanistan is actually more related to Pakistan. I don’t think I have to tell this to India,” the Norwegian deputy minister said.

On the issue of cyber warfare, in which China was gaining strength by the day, Eide said the issue was “a fast-growing” international agenda “as a phenomenon…as a threat, we have to be deal with.”

On the issue of sea piracy, Eide said much of it was taking place in the Indian Ocean, particularly the Gulf of Aden.

“It is one area for international military cooperation beyond traditional alliances,” he said.

Describing sea piracy as a cancer, Eide said the naval anti-piracy effort was just like having a pill for cancer.

Pointing out that the owners of hijacked cargo ships had started paying ransom, the Norwegian minister said this was a problem area that need to be dealt with, indicating that this trend was encouraging pirates more.