Homeland Security

Tactical Shifts in the Terror Profile
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Issue Vol. 23.4 Oct-Dec2008 | Date : 08 Oct , 2011

Their training camps had been moved out of POK to the Afghanistan / Pakistan border but with the overthrow of the Taliban these were 9/11and brought back to POK.

A slew of Human Rights accusations were now levelled against the Security Forces which were quite demoralizing for the rank and file. The simple fact is that the Indian Army is one of the few Armies in the World that does not use fighters, bombers, tanks or artillery to support its counter-terrorist operations. The contrast between how operations are conducted in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and even by the Pakistani Army in FATA and NWFP is striking. Well over 93 per cent of the human rights violation allegations against the Army, when investigated by National Human Rights Commission, have been found to be false and fabricated. Where human rights concern for the terrorists (unfortunately not for the victims) stem from genuine compassion, these are to be welcomed and encouraged. However, when these are part of a deliberately orchestrated design by the over-ground elements to slow down operations, demoralize the Security Forces, and put them on the back foot, these must be seen as such and not be allowed to unduly hamper legitimate operations. There is an amazing lack of concern in our media for the human rights of the victims of terrorism who are routinely killed in bomb blasts and IED explosions. These poor Indians die unsung. The concern for the human rights of the terrorists is, however, reaching bizarre levels. It is one of the major reasons why India is becoming such a soft target for terrorist depredations.

There was an orchestrated outcry for withdrawing the Indian Army from J&K. even though a duly elected State Government had been put in place through manifestly free and fair elections, it was sidelined and deligitmised . The Hurriyat (which had refused to take part in the elections and test its popularity) was conferred an uncalled for legitimacy in the name of negotiating with all parties to the conflict and an impression was created that it was virtually a government in waiting. A simply uncalled for ‘Azadi euphoria’ was thereby generated and an impression created that the state was about to be handed over to the Hurriyat.

In the specific context of the Jihad that the ISI has been waging in the rest of India, it is now trying to ensure deniability by promoting local organizations

Despite these severe constraints, the Indian Security Forces were able to stabilize the situation. By 2006/07 the back of the Jihadi Tanzeems was largely broken. The Fence had proved to be a formidable obstacle and had seriously curtailed infiltration and logistics support. Without the ability to recuperate losses, the terrorist campaign could not be sustained in J&K. Near normalcy had returned. Over four lakh tourists had visited J&K in 2008, and some five lakh pilgrims had visited the Amarnath Shrine. Assembly Elections were due. Once these were conducted peacefully the Pakistani case would go by default.

The Intifida Phase Realising that the terrorist battle had been largely lost, the ISI tried to respond in several ways

  • The Pakistani Army staged over 30 firing incidents on the LC to provide fire cover for renewed attempts at infiltration. It thereby did its best to break  the ceasefire that had held since 2003. The intention was possibly to divert attention from President Musharraf’s serious problems as also to possibly create excuses in the east to slow down or call off its campaign against the Taliban in FATA and NWFP, west of the Indus.
  • The Intifada Agitation Phase In the Valley itself, it decided to switch tactics to try and launch a Palestinian Intifada type phase of mass agitation based on communal mobilization and over-hyping local issues. The Amarnath land transfer issue was blown out of all proportions. The intensity of emotions was raised to a feverish pitch by exploiting the economic fears of the fruit growers. This could easily have been countered by a well orchestrated air-lift of the fruits from the Valley. The administration was however taken by total surprise and virtually paralyzed.

The recent shifts in tactical and operating patterns of the ISI stem from the lessons learnt so far in the global war against terror.

Polarity of Emotions  Emotions in the Valley tend to be intense (but not deep). They are easily whipped up but can not be sustained for long periods. These were allowed to be played out initially. The Indian media unfortunately went into an over-drive and the likes of Arundhati Roy suggested openly that it was time to let J&K go. This was an uncalled for attack on the national will to hold on. National political will is the prime target of asymmetric warfare.

The hard work of nearly two decades was being allowed to go waste in J&K. What is needed is cooling of atavistic passions but the central issue is the need to hold firm and display the will to retain and safeguard Indian’s sovereignty at all costs. India has a population of 150 million Muslims. Their fore fathers had voted with their feet to stay on in secular India instead of migrating to a theocratic Pakistan. How can five million Muslims of the Kashmir Valley be permitted to secede on a purely communal agenda? What is at stake is a key issue of state ideology. To let Kashmir Valley go simply because of the shenanigans of the Hurriyat (and their fans like Arundhati Roy) would unravel the secular basis of this Republic. That such a step was even suggested is cause for amazement. The need of the hour for the Indian state is to hold firm and display the will and stamina to hold on and not loose on the negotiating table, the war that has been won on the battle fields. A good samaritan approach wherein the Indian state is prepared to negotiate with whosever is prepared to talk is fine.

The ISI has fully ingested its lessons of the earlier campaigns in J&K and the rest of India. What we are now witnessing is the effectiveness of the changed tactics.

However it can not and should not give the impression of rank capitulationism. The Indian approach of seeking a dialogue with the  Hurriyat and other anti national elements has unfortunately, delegitimized the electoral process and the given the impression that the Indian state is all set to capitulate to the demands of the secessionists. It is this that needlessly encourages the secessionist elements to fan delusions that Azadi is once again around the corner and one final round of street agitation will bring about what two decades of terror could not. That it will cause the Indian state to simply cave in is a preposterous thought .However that precisely was what the media cheerleaders of MS Arundhati Roy were trying to advocate – an abject and tame surrender of Indian sovereignty.

Tactical Shift in Rest of India 

Indigenizing the Jihad In the specific context of the Jihad that the ISI has been waging in the rest of India, it is now trying to ensure deniability by promoting local organizations which seem to draw their angst from purely local causes and have a highly localized narrative. Global Jihadi corporate organizations based in Pakistan are not viable any more in the current altered context hence the ISI’s support for local extremist organizations like the Indian Mujahideen.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Maj Gen GD Bakshi, (Retd)

is a war Veteran and Strategic Analyst.

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2 thoughts on “Tactical Shifts in the Terror Profile

  1. The write up gives an insight of the grave condition that has troubled the Indian citizens for more than two decades. I am astounded that there’s no other comment available. Are we so much busy going through other things that the real trouble doesn’t troubles us.

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