Homeland Security

How Pakistan's Proxy War Began - VII
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By B Raman

State-sponsors of terrorism generally tend to project the terrorist groups backed by them as “freedom-fighters”, just as Musharraf has been doing since he captured power on October 12, 1999. How to differentiate between terrorists and freedom-fighters was one of the questions considered by President Reagan’s Special Task Force on Terrorism headed by George Bush (Sr), his Vice-President and the father of the present President. It said that while freedom-fighters confine their attacks only to security forces, who are in a position to defend themselves, terrorists are those who kill innocent civilians. It defined a State-sponsor of terrorism as a State “supplying money, weapons, training, identification documents, travel documents, or safe haven for terrorists.”

The USA’s Department of Defence Directive 2000.12 issued in 1996, fine-tuned the definition of terrorism in order to bring under its ambit acts directed against civilians as well as security forces. Its definition of terrorism is as follows: “Unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property, with the intention of coercing or intimidating governments or societies, often for political or ideological purposes.”

It laid down the following other definitions:

  • International (or Transnational) Terrorism. Terrorism in which planning and execution of the terrorist act transcends national boundaries. In defining international terrorism, the purpose of the act, the nationalities of the victims, or the resolution of the incident are considered. Those acts are usually planned to attract widespread publicity and are designed to focus attention on the existence, cause, or demands of the terrorists.
  • Non-State Supported Terrorism. Terrorist groups that operate autonomously, receiving no significant support from any government.
  • State-Directed Terrorism. Terrorist groups that operate as agents of a government, receiving substantial intelligence, logistical, and operational support from the sponsoring government.
  • State-Supported Terrorism. Terrorist groups that generally operate independently, but receive support from one or more governments.

The State Department’s report on the Patterns of Global Terrorism during 2000 has further expanded the definition of terrorism to bring under its ambit even attacks on military installations. It said: “We also consider as acts of terrorism attacks on military installations or on armed military personnel when a state of military hostilities does not exist at the site”.

A Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the UN approved by the UN General Assembly on October 24, 1970, has laid down that “every State has the duty to refrain from organising, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another State or acquiescing in organised activities within its territory directed towards the commission of such acts.”

Subsequently, while speaking during a debate on another Declaration on the strengthening of International Security, which was passed as Resolution No 2734 on December 16, 1970, delegates from the USA, the UK, Canada, Italy, Australia, Japan and the then USSR described the sponsoring by a State of acts of terrorism another State as indirect aggression.

In a testimony on November 17, 1983, before the US Department of Defence Commission on the Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act of October 23, 1983, headed by Admiral Robert LJ Long (retd) of the US Navy, Brian Michael Jenkins, a counter-terrorism expert of the Rand Corporation, said:

“A growing number of governments themselves are using terrorist tactics, employing terrorist groups or exploiting terrorist incidents as a mode of surrogate warfare. These governments see in terrorism a useful capability, a weapons system, a cheap means of waging war…

“Terrorists offer a possible alternative to open armed conflict. For some nations unable to mount a conventional military challenge, terrorism is the only alternative, an equaliser.

Even though international law and practice thus give us the right of active defence against Pakistan, we have not exercised it even once. We do not have even after 20 years a credible counter proxy war policy to demonstrate to Pakistan that its proxy war will not be cost-free.

“If more governments begin not only to support terrorist tactics, but also to use them openly, and the international community fails to impose effective sanctions, military force may become the only means of combating terrorism.”

He listed the various retaliatory options available to the victim-State as a show or demonstration of force, selective targetting, lateral attacks (on terrorist training camps), support of dissidents in the territory of the State-sponsor and full-scale military operations, in very extreme cases, ranging from a naval blockade to invasion. The Long Commission report recommended that the Secretary of Defence should direct the development of a new doctrine to deal with State-sponsored terrorism.

The right of a victim-State to defend itself against such indirect aggression by the use of appropriate conventional as well as non-conventional means was underlined in an address delivered by George Shultz, the then US Secretary of State, after the signing on April 3, 1984, by President Reagan of a National Security Directive on this subject and again later in a foreword contributed by Bush Sr to a study on Terrorist Group Profiles in November, 1988.

Schultz described State-sponsored terrorism as a new form of warfare and said that the success of diplomatic options in dealing with State-sponsors of terrorism would depend on the readiness of the victim-State to hit back, through conventional military and non-conventional clandestine means if the diplomatic options failed. He, therefore, expressed the determination of the US to follow a strategy of active defence, that is, taking the counter-terrorism operations into the territory or against the interests of the State-sponsor of terrorism, if left with no other alternative.

In his Foreword, Bush Sr reiterated the determination of the US to demonstrate to State-sponsors of terrorism that their actions would not be cost-free.

Even though international law and practice thus give us the right of active defence against Pakistan, we have not exercised it even once. We do not have even after 20 years a credible counter proxy war policy to demonstrate to Pakistan that its proxy war will not be cost-free.

Book_a_terrorist_stateIs it any wonder that Musharraf behaves towards us with such impudence? There is not even a sense of outrage in us as was seen by the way we fell over each other in welcoming and lionising Musharraf in July, 2001.

Continued…: How Pakistan’s Proxy War Began – VIII 

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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

B Raman

Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

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