Terror foremost threat to civilised world: President

Describing terrorism as the "foremost threat" facing the civilised world, President Pratibha Patil said India believes the menace has to be confronted with all the force and in close co-operation with the international community.

New Delhi: Describing terrorism as the "foremost threat" facing the civilised world, President Pratibha Patil on Thursday said India believes the menace has to be confronted with all the force and in close co-operation with the international community.

"One of the foremost threats that the civilized world is confronted with is from terrorism and India has been its victim. As the horrendous attacks in Mumbai demonstrated two
years ago, terrorist groups have become more sophisticated and are able to use advanced technology and equipment in their objective of killing innocents," Patil said.

The President said terrorism is a global challenge with a worldwide network that threatens regional and global security.

"The world community has woken up to this challenge," she said inaugurating the Golden Jubilee celebrations of National Defence College (NDC).

She said India believes that terrorism has to be confronted with all the force at "our command and in close co-operation with the international community."

Listing other challenges to global security, the President said many of them were "far removed" from the classical notions of inter-state conflict.

"As the world has globalised, so too have these challenges, no longer respecting national borders. Transnational crimes, piracy, drug trafficking and cyber attacks are all examples of these new threats, many of which are interlinked," she said at the opening ceremony of NDC-organised international seminar on `The Role of Force in Strategic Affairs` here.

Calling for developing capabilities to adequately respond to not only the traditional threats, but also the new threats of the 21st Century, she said, "The tools available to
us are no longer limited to military power alone. Other attributes of power, including soft power, economic strength and technological advances have an increasing role to play."

Noting that justification of use of force itself had always been a subject of controversy, Patil said the measure of progress humans have made that they no longer treat wars as
the first mode of resolving differences.

"The use of force in international relations must be resorted to as the last option. We must always be guided by the philosophy that preventing wars is better than waging
them," she said.

Guided by this philosophy, the President said, India had been one of the largest contributors to the United Nations peacekeeping operations.

"Our men and women in uniform serve in very difficult and dangerous trouble spots of the world to harness the use of force for the maintenance of peace and security. We have also seen that force in the traditional sense has been deployed for humanitarian assistance and disaster management," the President said.

"By this, it has contributed to the common good and as in the case of the tsunami or cyclone Nargis has led to greater regional co-operation and understanding," she said.

Noting that India had been widely recognized as "a factor of peace and stability" not just for our region, but also for the entire world, Patil said the country remained actively
engaged with its global partners and would work together with them for promotion of international peace and security, and realise its rightful place in the world order.

"India is a peace loving nation. Historically, we have never coveted territory nor have we been an expansionist power. We have no aggressive intent. Our strategic doctrine is
derived from our civilization values of peace, tolerance and mutual co-existence," she said.

Pointing out that India lived "in peace and harmony with its neighbours based on mutual respect, non-interference in each other`s affairs" and in accordance with principles and UN Charter, she said the nation`s objective, as indeed that of other nations, was progress and prosperity.

"Our primary challenge is the eradication of poverty, disease and illiteracy that afflict millions of our people. However, no nation can prosper without its borders being secure and security remains the basic edifice on which developmental pursuits are built," she said.

Emphasising the need to be adept at managing constantly changing nature of warfare and threats to national security, the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces said, "A strong defence and an effective deterrence are essential to preserve peace."

Patil said, India needs to "remain alert for any eventuality" and provide the armed forces the necessary resources to deter any aggression or threat, even as the nation pursued the goal of creating an external environment that was conducive to the country`s development process.

Given the size of our country and our economy, she said, it was but natural that India should have global interests and a significant stake in ensuring that the international system was stable and conducive to peace and prosperity.

"We believe that greater international co-operation is the best way to secure this objective. Our greatest strength is the moral force that we bring to bear on global stage. It
is India`s commitment to democracy, rule of law, pluralism and our values that have enabled us to earn the world`s respect," she said, calling for protection of these values as a matter of national priority and addressing threats to these basic concepts.