Indonesia’s minister for political, legal, and security affairs, Mohammad Mahfud, is travelling to India. He will hold bilateral talks with national security adviser Ajit Doval in Delhi on Tuesday.
The meeting, which will be the second between the two security advisers this year, will discuss the issues of maritime security, radicalism, and cooperation in dealing with emerging security challenges in cyberspace.
The Indonesian minister is visiting Delhi at the invitation of NSA Doval. This year in March, Doval visited Indonesia for the Second India-Indonesia Security Dialogue at the NSA level and during this visit, he extended an invitation to Mahfud to come to India. Mahfud is a senior minister in Joko Widodo’s government and coordinates important portfolios such as home, foreign, and defence.
The visiting Indonesian minister will also be accompanied by a 24-member interfaith delegation consisting of ulemas and leaders from Hindu and Christian religions. The Indonesian ulemas will engage with Indian ulemas over a day-long discussion focusing on the “Role of Ulema in Fostering a Culture of Interfaith Peace and Social Harmony in India and Indonesia”. The sessions will focus on Islam, Harmonising Interfaith Society, and Countering Radicalisation and Extremism in India and Indonesia. NSA Doval will address the opening session while Mehfud will deliver a keynote speech.
India and Indonesia have shared two millennia of close cultural and commercial contact. The Hindu, Buddhist, and later Muslim faith travelled to Indonesia from the shores of India. There are around 120,000 Indonesians of Indian origin in Indonesia mostly concentrated in Greater Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya, and Bandung. They are mainly engaged in trade dealing in textiles and sports goods.
The accompanying interfaith delegation is also expected to engage with their Indian peers and exchange ideas regarding religions, their varying ways of practices, and also challenges of radicalisation in modern-day society.
Sources told CNN-News18, “While the two governments had the idea to do this, we are letting it be organised and move ahead as a civil society-led initiative. Familiarity is already there but giving it a more structured way is something that is being given a push by the government.”
Such engagements also allow a space where one can discuss “the issue of how we ensure that religion is not used as a source of conflict or violence and how faith can be built as a bridge in different sections of society and can be a source of peace,” a source said.
In the past decades, Indonesia has also suffered severe terrorist attacks and faced major terrorism challenges. The trend of terrorist groups operating in Indonesia to focus on “soft" targets resulted in the Bali bombing of restaurants. Since then, successive governments have taken a slew of measures, from bringing stricter laws to modernising the education system, as a way to curb radicalisation in the country which also hosts the world’s largest population of Muslims.
In the meeting in Jakarta, Doval and Mahfud discussed a multitude of bilateral issues between the two countries and agreed to cement the comprehensive strategic partnership and promote connectivity among society. Subsequently, both leaders signed the Memorandum of Understanding for Security Dialogue to further strengthen cooperation on political and security issues.
India and Indonesia had decided to establish a Security Dialogue during the state visit of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to India in December 2016. The two countries had agreed to establish a Security Dialogue in order to develop a comprehensive action plan for security cooperation.
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