India is under pressure from the U.S. to join the western coalition already battling the group.
India is willing to participate in military operations against the Islamic State (IS) if it is a United Nations-sanctioned operation carried out under the U.N. flag, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Wednesday in the first formal response of the Narendra Modi government on the issue.
“We have made it clear that if there is a U.N. resolution and if there is a U.N. flag and a U.N. mission, then as per India’s policy to operate under the U.N. flag, we will participate,” Mr. Parrikar said.
He was responding to questions about India’s role in the war on the IS after paying homage at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate on Monday to commemorate Vijay Diwas, the liberation war of Bangladesh 1971.
Mr. Parrikar stressed that India joining the fight against IS “depends on whether the U.N. takes a resolution.”
This is the first comment by a senior minister of the Modi government detailing the stand of the government on the IS and India’s willingness to send its military to the Iraq-Syria battlefield.
India is one of the most active participants in U.N. peacekeeping operations around the world, but it prefers to participate in peacekeeping missions rather than peace enforcements. Despite the traditional preference for peacekeeping, India has lost 157 soldiers in U.N. operations until now.
Ever since the disastrous Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operations in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s, in which 1,200 soldiers were killed, India has been extremely reluctant about sending its troops to difficult battlefields abroad.
In 2003, despite intense pressure and a U.N. resolution approving peacekeeping operations, India did not send troops to Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled by a U.S.-led coalition.
According to sources, India is yet again under pressure from the U.S. to join the western coalition that has launched airstrikes against the IS, which controls large areas in Syria and Iraq and has established a Caliphate. During Mr. Parrikar’s recent visit to the U.S., the global coalition against the IS was discussed, sources said.
Since the terror attacks in Paris by IS supporters, the global community has scrambled to defeat the outfit militarily and also find ways to cut off funding to terrorist organisations. In this line, major nations, including India, held the first-ever meeting in Paris to devise mechanisms to tackle terror financing networks of the IS.
As reported by The Hindu earlier, reports indicate that almost 150 Indian youths may have been influenced by the IS ideology, about two dozen Indians are fighting in Syria while many others have been intercepted while trying to reach IS-held territory.
Coincidentally, Pakistan is part of an Islamic Coalition of 34 nations announced by Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to coordinate efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.