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Rohitashva Kumar asked: What is the role of physiography in cross-border terrorism?

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  • Vivek Chadha replies: Physiography has been and will continue to remain a critical element in cross-border terrorism. In the case of Pakistan’s employment of terrorism as state policy, the efficacy of achieving success on their part is dependent to a large extent on the successful conduct of terrorist acts and cross-Line of Control (LoC) actions on the Indian side.

    In the case of terrorist actions, it commences from planning the location of launch pads on Pakistan’s side of the LoC. These sites are ideally selected to ensure their safety from direct firing weapons of the Indian Army. This is done by employing the folds in the ground available within mountain ranges that protect the camps. Similarly, the flow of rivers and streams, vegetation patterns and areas hidden from surveillance are plotted to create navigation routes for terrorist infiltration. The selection of passes and climatic conditions that allow them to remain open even during the winters is yet another factor often considered. Locations that have traditionally been employed by the terrorists for hiding from surveillance and physical interference within the Indian state, are also influenced by their accessibility, which in turn is related to their physiography.

    In the case of cross-LoC border action teams (BAT) that have often operated from Pakistan, similar physical conditions of the terrain are studied in great detail to plan the route of ingress, suitable areas for the strike, and also the route to make a quick exit.

    These considerations are not only relevant for cross-border terrorist strikes, but also for any military operation that is planned in the kind of terrain available in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) or elsewhere.

    Posted on March 19, 2018