The ghastly bombings of hotels and churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday highlighted the need for Asian countries to strengthen coordination to prevent such tragedies from happening again. And the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) should be enhanced.
The violence broke a decade-long peace in the country which had been dogged by its civil war until 2009. The Sri Lankan government described the attacks as "a brand new type of terrorism" and believes that a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheeth Jama'ath was behind the deadly attacks.
What happened in Sri Lanka sounds the alarm for all countries in Asia, a region that has already been plagued by terrorism and extremism. China itself is a victim of terrorism. In Southeast Asia, Singapore had been targeted by foreign IS militants and Malaysia is battling a rise in the radicalization of the local population. The Central Asian region has long seen terrorism as a cross-border phenomenon, and to the South, India and Pakistan are also disrupted by constant terror attacks.
Faced with the common threat of humanity, all Asian countries seem to be unanimous in their condemnation of terrorism. China has offered firm support to the Sri Lankan government's efforts to maintain national security and stability.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned in the strongest terms the serial terror attacks in Sri Lanka and also offered assistance to the country for security against terror-related challenges.
Based on these consensuses, it is high time that SCO set up a coordinated system to fight terrorism in the region in an efficient and effective manner.
It was reported that an intelligence alert was sent 10 days ago to top officers from a police chief. In a tweet after the Sunday attacks, Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando admitted that "there was a delay in action." If there had been coordination and intelligence sharing, governments could have found a way to prevent the tragedy in Sri Lanka.
The SCO, in which Sri Lanka is a dialogue partner, has been shouldering the task of rooting out the three evil forces, namely terrorism, separatism and extremism, with a focus on Central Asia and South Asia.
Now this bloc considers it necessary to promote the creation of a single global anti-terrorism front with the UN playing a central coordinating role.
Further anti-terrorism cooperation within the SCO requires mutual trust, while mutual trust can only be gained through more cooperation. In the wake of the attacks in Sri Lanka, the SCO should strengthen cooperation among its member states, observers and dialogue partners and, when necessary, consider including more regional countries which would contribute to this arduous process.