Homeland Security

Internal Conflicts
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Issue Courtesy: Aakrosh | Date : 28 Jun , 2011

Many mini-wars are raging around the world, but internal conflicts where the main instrument of destruction is terrorism pose a great danger to the entire world directly or indirectly. Internal conflicts in India, Pakistan, Somalia and Tajikistan have been discussed here.

The policymakers in India are influenced by two opposing views, one of those who preach a soft line and advise patience and the other of the hard-liners, who want to give unfettered powers to the security forces regardless of the collateral damages. Those who advocate a soft policy want the state to use methods that would win over the insurgents and wean away their supporters. They consider better educational facilities, more employment opportunities, a just system and good governance as the best means to root out insurgencies and terrorism. The hard-liners blame the government for being soft and would prefer the “Rajapaksa Model,” employed by Sri Lanka to defeat the LTTE;

Pak army considers these organisations as strategic assets and a second line of defence in case of an Indian invasion; in the meanwhile, the radical Islamists and the ISI have been using them for attacking Indian troops in Kashmir”¦

The scene is murky in Pakistan. It seems the army brass and a segment of the population nurture the jihadi culture and have raised and trained various organisations for urban insurgency and terror attacks. The army considers these organisations as strategic assets and a second line of defence in case of an Indian invasion; in the meanwhile, the radical Islamists and the ISI have been using them for attacking Indian troops in Kashmir besides mounting catastrophic terrorist attacks on important urban targets in India. The strategic objective of these attacks is to destabilise and weaken India—attack India by inflicting a thousand cuts—as a conventional attack is beyond Pakistan military capability. Terrorism has been used as a state policy by Pakistan since 1989, but scores of armed organisations raised for attacking targets in India have eventually turned against Pakistan itself, leading to mayhem and administrative and economic breakdown in the entire country.

The rise of fundamentalist forces in Somalia and Tajikistan is directly linked with the global jihadi movement and supported by al-Qaeda. It has the potential to spill over to the neighbouring areas and engulf several countries and regions in violence and terrorism.

Turbulance in Kashmir

The street violence and political turbulence in the Kashmir Valley has escalated since June, mainly due to continued neglect of the common man and an oppressive atmosphere created by the never-ending security operations. The simmering discontent and anger boiled over after a couple of fake encounters by rogue elements among the security forces came to light. According to Meenakshi Ganguly, the youths say, “We have seen enough of India” and a 20-something-year-old told her, “We don’t want to put up with the oppression anymore. We want freedom.” He proudly claimed to be one of Kashmir’s so-called stone pelters aimed largely at police forces employed to put down a violent wave of demonstrations in Kashmir. “We are peaceful protesters,” he said. “We only throw stones if they stop us.” And if they catch a policeman alone, he said, they beat him up. “But we don’t kill him,” another youth said. “We have beaten up a few, but not a single policeman has been killed.” A third Kashmiri youth said, “It is only self-defense. It is in response to their provocation. Our stones for their bullets.”1

The Kashmiri armed rebellion may not easily be suppressed because the separatists are bent upon sabotaging the peace process and the movement may be taken over by extremist jihadi groups operating from Pakistan.

More than 100 people, mostly in their teens, have been killed in police firings since June; the police forces have also suffered about 1,200 serious injuries from heavy stoning. Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh repeatedly promised “zero tolerance” for human rights violations in Kashmir, the civilian deaths continue to rise and no one has been held responsible for civilian casualties. The main response from the Jammu and Kashmir government to stop the agitation was to impose curfew and use paramilitary forces to suppress the movement, but this only gave greater momentum to the violent movement. The protesters defied the curfew and came out in larger numbers. Heavy stone pelting compelled the security forces to open fire on the rampaging mobs, and this led to a vicious cycle of violent demonstrations and fresh rounds of police firings from June to August. The police forces generally proved ineffective as they were not only outnumbered but had little training in dealing with intifada-like youth movements.

The government of India eventually took notice of the deteriorating law and order situation in Kashmir valley and sent an all party parliamentary delegation to study the problem on the spot. The interaction of this delegation with various segments of the population convinced the Central government that a political initiative must be taken without delay to diffuse the situation. Consequently, the government announced a political package that addressed the problem of the common man. The main points of this peace move that had an immediate impact on the common man were: lifting of curfew and opening of educational institutions, proposal to reduce the presence of security forces and checkpoints from large urban centres and release of youth arrested for stone pelting and other detainees booked for minor offences.

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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 Afsir Karim

is Editor Aakrosh and former Editor Indian Defence Review.

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