Terrorism

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  • Talks with Taliban: war by other means

    The situation in Pakistan today is very fragile. Despite the progress on the democratic front, there is a sense of helplessness on how to tackle the menace of terrorism. Unlike in the past, Islamabad appears quite weak vis-à-vis Taliban while it keeps chanting its commitment to talks with TTP, despite the provocation and retaliation from the army.

    March 03, 2014

    Kirti Singh asked: Despite India being an age-old victim of terrorism, why does India lack a coherent counter-terrorism policy?

    S. Kalyanaraman replies: Until recently, the terrorism challenge that India confronted was largely limited to those states that shared a border with Pakistan (in particular Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab). Given Pakistan's role in supporting and sponsoring terrorist groups that operated in these states, India's counter-terrorism efforts were largely focused on three aspects: 1) the diplomatic effort to highlight and bring international pressure to bear upon Pakistan to stop its support for and sponsorship of cross-border terrorism; 2) the employment of security forces (armed forces, paramilitary and police) and intelligence agencies to tackle this challenge in a particular state; and 3) forging an understanding and accommodation with moderate elements within the state concerned. Although the activities of terrorist groups in these states did spill over into other states of the Union, there was no all-Indian dimension to this challenge. Further, even where there was no cross-border dimension, as for instance in the case of the Naxalites in West Bengal, the challenge was largely confined to a particular state. As a result, counter-terrorism was largely focused on dealing with the particular challenge in an individual state.

    Compounding this lack of a national perspective on terrorism is the distribution of powers between the Centre and the State under the Indian Constitution. Powers over the police are vested in the state governments and the Centre's efforts to establish national-level institutions to deal with the challenge of terrorism do face opposition as seen in recent years in the case of the National Investigation Agency and National Counter Terrorism Centre.

    The need for a comprehensive national-level institutional mechanism and approach to counter terrorism emerged only over the last decade because of three trends: 1) the decision of Pakistani terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed to expand their jehad to all parts of India (attacks on Red Fort, Parliament, Mumbai); 2) the emergence of the Indian Mujahideen as a pan-Indian Islamist group and its terrorist campaign spread across several parts of India; and 3) the terrorist campaign unleashed across several states by radical elements among the Hindu Right. The final straw that forced a reassessment of mechanisms and approach was of course the Mumbai attacks in November 2008.

    Although a comprehensive blueprint was indeed drawn up subsequently, this meaningful effort has been successfully crimped and cramped by Centre-State disputes over jurisdiction as well as turf wars among various investigation and intelligence agencies. Nevertheless, India today does have a national level institutional framework to deal with pan-India terrorist campaigns and some significant successes have been scored over the last few years. Be that as it may, there is indeed a case for bringing greater public pressure to bear upon the central and state political leaderships as well as the various government agencies to further strengthen this framework.

    Posted on February 07, 2014

    Internal Security Trends in 2013 and a Prognosis

    The internal security situation in India reflected a marked improvement in 2012-2013 relative to previous years. This Issue Brief offers an assessment of the major trends in 2013 for Jammu and Kashmir, the land borders of India, Naxalism, the Northeast, terrorism and radicalism in India. It also offers a prognosis for the year ahead.

    January 24, 2014

    Akhila Reddy asked: Why India is a victim of frequent terror attacks? Is it due to intelligence failure or lack of adequate capabilities with law enforcement agencies?

    Vivek Chadha replies: In order to better understand the trajectory of terror strikes against India, it is important to co-relate this with the causes for the same as also the contributory factors, which become catalysts in the process.

    India is not a victim of terror attacks because of intelligence failure and poor law enforcement capabilities. These are limitations which preclude successful counter terrorism. In that sense, these become contributory factors or one could also term them as facilitators.

    The causes for terrorism are diverse in relation to India. International studies usually classify terrorism in terms of different generations. One way to classify these could be anarchist terrorism, terrorism fuelled by independence struggles, followed by communist revolutionary movements and finally jihadi terrorism. This progression spreads across a century through its varying stages. However, India’s case is different. Here, historical factors, political opportunism, socio-economic factors and insensitivity to religious feelings have often led to estrangement of groups. Their perception of having been wronged by the state has been the cause of armed struggles. This can be seen in the case of Nagalim movement, Jammu and Kashmir, and in the Naxal affected region. These have in some cases been exploited by foreign powers to further their strategic interests.

    However, evidently, in each case, as the query alludes, weak intelligence and enforcement has allowed the separatist movements or insurgencies to fester and aggravate. This has also been evident in the case of terrorism in the hinterland by the Indian Mujahideen.

    Posted on January 17, 2014

    Ramesh Yadav asked: What could be the solution to the Chechen issue?

    Amit Kumar replies: The acts of terrorism in Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia involving Chechens are indicative of the revival of terrorism as an instrument for promoting the cause of Chechen separatism. These acts of terrorism have also underscored the threat posed by Islamists, for whom Chechnya has become the rallying point to propagate the idea of Caucasus Emirate and which has started to find resonance in other predominantly Muslim republics of North Caucasus, like Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria. Though the Islamist phenomenon is a late addition, the quest for Chechen independence is not new.

    Broadly, there are three choices before Russia: recognise the independence of Chechnya, suppress the secessionist forces, or work towards better federal relations within the ambit of the Russian Constitution to durably resolve the Chechen separatist problem. As far as the first choice is concerned, it can be said that Russia cannot afford to allow Chechnya to secede as the same could be replicated in other adjoining Muslim republics, undermining Russia’s territorial integrity. The second choice involves coercion and is fraught with the danger of inviting retaliation from the Chechens who are not alone in their fight against the Russian central authority. The third choice entails skilful use of democratic politics and appears to be the most desirable one.

    President Putin’s logic that democracy can be delayed in a crisis-ridden state, does not appear to be convincing in the present scenario where Russia seems to have emerged stronger than ever before since 1991. Russia should, therefore, explore the possibility of strengthening the democratic process in Chechnya and elsewhere in the country without much delay. Delaying democracy can be counter productive. In the short-term, though democracy may not appear to be effective against disgruntled elements who might still engage in anti-state protests and even insurgency, but then suppression too may not prove to be a viable conflict resolution method either.

    In the longer run, broad based and consensual democracies are often better at problem solving than autocracies. It is democracy which often leads to a stable polity and has better chances of resolving secessionist conflicts. A case in point is J&K, where the restoration of the democratic processes has led to a more peaceful and stable polity. It is noteworthy that President Putin, of late, has emphasised the importance of democratic polity and has outlined plans to modernise the mechanisms of Russian democracy in order to develop a more effective, accountable and transparent governance.

    Also, please refer to my following IDSA publication:

    Amit Kumar, “The Chechen Imbroglio: An Update”, IDSA Issue Brief, October 05, 2011.

    Posted on January 16, 2014

    Measures for Improving Management of National Security

    Foremost on the government’s defence and national security reforms agenda should be the formulation of a comprehensive National Security Strategy (NSS), including that for internal security. The NSS should be formulated after carrying out an inter-departmental, inter-agency, multi-disciplinary strategic defence review and must take the public into confidence.

    January 16, 2014

    Ashish Agrawal asked: What is the linkage between development and spread of extremism?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: It is a truism that underdevelopment often creates the conditions for insurgency and spread of extremist ideologies among the people, who perceive that their needs are not being taken care of by the government. While it has been the policy of governments around the world today to emphasise on "inclusive development", there are always groups in every state who feel alienated because they perceive that they are left out of the developmental efforts. Such perceptions coupled with inefficient and corrupt governance create an ideal condition for extremism and militancy. More than lack of development, it is the perception of injustice, misgovernance and inability of the system to engage the disaffected lot that lead people to violence and extremism.

    Rohan Kusnur asked: What were the factors responsible for the show of restraint by India after major terrorist strikes like 2001 parliament attack and 26/11 Mumbai attacks?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: As a responsible country in the comity of nations, India has rightly advocated restraint not only on these two occasions but also on several terrorist incidents across the country over the years. The factors driving this policy of restraint are: strategy of deniable subversion adopted by Pakistan, and nuclear balance which is in place since 1998.

    It is true that most of these terror attacks are traced to Pakistani territory. The groups orchestrating these attacks from Pakistani soil are reportedly acting at the behest of the intelligence agencies of Pakistan. Pakistan has traditionally used the militant/terror groups to pose perennial security challenges for India. Pakistani strategy involves the factor of deniability and therefore it has been difficult to pursue this issue successfully with Pakistan at the official level, despite the fact that we have a full-fledged discussion on the issue of terrorism in bilateral dialogues that we have had with Pakistan since the Lahore Agreement. Pakistan has quite adamantly refused to acknowledge any role in the terror attacks.

    The other factor constraining India's muscular response is the open nuclear deterrence that has come into play since 1998 between the two countries. While it has not discouraged Pakistan from using subversion (read terrorism) as a tool of their security policy vis-à-vis India, it has certainly prevented any possible Indian pre-emptive or punitive action as a response to terrorist attacks. Be that as it may, India did mobilise its army along the international border with Pakistan under Operation Parakram which did have a deterring effect on Pakistani behaviour, even if it is usually perceived as a cost-ineffective and an expensive counter-measure.
    The lesson from these experiences is that India will have to beef up its international security mechanism and plug the holes on a progressive basis, engage Pakistan on terrorism, and generate international pressure on Pakistan to behave responsibly.

    Militant Groups in South Asia

    Militant Groups in South Asia
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press
      2014

    This book is an attempt to profile important militant groups presently active in South Asian countries. The threat perception from each group has been covered in this book in details. The book will be useful for further research on militancy, terrorism, radicalisation and security related issues.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-754-8,
    • Price: ₹. 995/-
    • E-copy available
    2014

    Nuclear Terrorism: The New Terror of the 21st Century

    Nuclear Terrorism: The New Terror of the 21st Century

    Nuclear terrorism is the most serious danger the world is facing today. Terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and Aum Shinrikyo have expressed their interest in acquiring a nuclear weapon. The only way to prevent this is to secure nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.

    2013

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