International Terrorism India's Long Term Strategy and Concerns Lt Gen Chandra Shekha

International Terrorism India's Long Term Strategy and Concerns Lt Gen Chandra Shekha
February 20th, 2012  

Topic: International Terrorism India's Long Term Strategy and Concerns Lt Gen Chandra Shekha

International Terrorism India's Long Term Strategy and Concerns Lt Gen Chandra Shekha
The Nature and Range of Terrorism

Terrorism is fundamentally an attack on the state. It may be described as an act of violence, committed against innocent people to create fear, with an underlying political motive. This fear is an intended effect and not merely a by-product of terrorism. Terrorists are therefore criminals and not so-called freedom fighters. International Terrorism has international or trans-national consequences in which terrorists strike targets outside and beyond their country of origin such as the 11th September World Trade Centre attack or the strikes by Pakistan-based outfits in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). International Terrorism also implies that such terrorist groups, e.g. JEI, Al Qaida, etc. have an organisation/ network/ linkage in a number of countries. For instance, we have identified terrorists who are nationals from 16 countries, currently operating in J&K. The question is that if collateral damage and casualties from terrorism are inevitable, should the Government have any qualms about swift and ruthless retaliation?

We need to understand that terrorism is different from insurgency or revolutionary / guerrilla warfare, as it is an overwhelmingly criminal act rather than merely a political offence. Even if it is argued that terrorism is employed by revolutionaries as a ‘tactic’, such means cannot justify the end. In the ongoing war in J&K we have already lost 28,000 lives. Finally, the ‘right to life’ is more fundamental than any other right. This is something that needs to be clearly propagated to everyone, including human rights-wallahs.

International terrorism is not a new phenomenon to the world or to India in particular. The 11th September incident has only demonstrated another facet of international terrorism – the tremendous potency of technology and innovation – besides the globalisation of economies, which have come to transcend national boundaries. Multi-national corporations and non-state players now have a worldwide reach. These have compromised the authority of the state. Non-state players and black money as well as narcotics trade have acquired power, making some of the terrorist groups (JEI, LTTE & PLO) financially viable and independent. The revolution in information technology (IT) and communication also enables instant transmission of ideas and information at a global level, by the terrorist outfits who can now exploit ‘cyber’ terrorism as well as the deadly and sophisticated Precision-Guided Missiles (PGMs), and other weapons of mass destruction.

The rise of religious fundamentalism has introduced a new ideology which sanctifies ‘Jehad’ (holy war) and ‘Fidayeen’ (suicide) attacks. This exploits the situation of ‘backwardness’ and economic disparity of the frustrated youth of society.

Terrorism today, therefore, has been transformed into a trans-national, high-tech, lethal and global phenomenon. The response to terrorism needs to be structured accordingly and the decision making process also needs to be modernised.

Geo-Political Environment and Threat Assessment

It is necessary to examine the environment, both internal and external that exists, before we discuss the long-term strategy and concerns that confront India. The prevailing internal environment has a direct bearing on the growth of terrorism in the country, and should be examined first. The realities in our context are:

l The fact that our consolidation as a secular, federal and democratic state is still evolving; and that the diversity of our multi-ethnic / multi religious society is often exploited by fundamentalist forces.

l The absence of sufficient employment and unequal development, the resultant poverty and the accompanying frustration, which has encouraged unemployed youth to take up criminal acts and narcotics. The inducement of money – for instance, Rs 3 to 4 lakhs per year in J&K – is a specific inducement to take to militancy.

l Ineffective Anti-Terrorism legislation/ legal frame-work and misplaced judicial-activism.

l "Structural" inadequacies in the state apparatus, namely:

— Weaknesses in the intelligence structure – human as well as technical.

— Inadequate modernisation of Police, PMF and Armed Forces.

— Unimaginative media management and coverage.

— Reactive response and slow governmental decision-making, lack of clear strategy and policy on Internal Security.

Amongst the existing external environment, the regional / sub continental realities that merit consideration are:

l Our situation between the ‘Golden Crescent’ and the ‘Golden Triangle’ leading to a heavy influx of drugs and arms. Thus, 21,000 weapons have been captured in J&K alone.

l A hostile nuclear Pakistan with a land border of 3,400 km, who sponsors ‘state-terrorism’ and fundamentalist forces.

l The unresolved border with China (5,800 km), a country that has active military and nuclear co-operation with Pakistan.

l A long sea border (7,700 km), prone to pirating and smuggling.

l A contiguous and porous border with unequal smaller SAARC nations such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, with accompanying problems such as illegal migration, trade and smuggling in the border belt and the resultant social tensions. Because of its size and capabilities, India is perceived as a big brother whose active cooperation is denounced as so-called ‘intervention’ and lack of it, as ‘indifference’.

On the larger international scene, the factors that impact on terrorism are the following:

l Globalisation has made geographic borders transparent to the flow of ideas, people and also turmoil.

l Technology has extended the reach and capabilities of the terrorists at the global level.

l Economic interests of national and multi-national corporations (MNCs) pre-dominate all other interests. Therefore, unfriendly acts by some of our neighbours are not questioned.

l The lack of international cooperation to undertake anti-terrorist action till the 11 September incident. Today, there is better realisation and the Security Council Resolution SCR 1373 is a good step. However, unless implemented and enforced, it is of little use. This, therefore, needs to be converted into an international convention and adopted by all nations.


Following from the above understanding of the nature of international terrorism that faces us today, it is clear that a long-term strategy is required to counter terrorism. It has to be comprehensively addressed on all fronts, political, economic, social and military. This strategy needs to be evolved from our national aims and objectives to protect ‘core values’. These core values are:

l Consolidate as a secular, federal democratic state with freedom of speech, equality and justice.

l Protect sovereignty and territorial integrity.

l Promote socio-economic growth and development.

We must learn from the experience of other nations. However, at the same time, we need to realise clearly that our situation is particular to us and there are no direct lessons to learn except a re-evaluation of our own experience. Our strategy must be realistic and cannot be similar to the US model of worldwide capability or the Israeli strategy of reliance on massive and immediate retaliation, as the respective environment and capabilities are different. While, we can take some useful lessons from the British dealings with the IRA or even the Egyptian policy on eliminating the Jehadis, one principle is clear – that whatever responses we adopt, they must not be ‘knee-jerk’ reactions or evolved in an ad-hoc manner.

Political / Diplomatic Strategy

International terrorism cannot effectively be fought alone, as has been our experience so far. All nations must join hands to combat it, as is being done for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida. SCR 1373 must not remain on paper, must be applied and the defaulting nations punished.

Pakistan sponsored ‘proxy’ war must be exposed and international pressure applied. We must highlight more aggressively, the justness of our cause and the support to terrorism by Pakistan, both through state and non-state players, as well as strive to isolate Pakistan in the international community.

A strong message needs to be conveyed to Pakistan, that we mean business, demonstrated by deeds/actions. All steps to convey this must be implemented such as diplomacy, trade, sports and military.

We also need to take all ‘covert measures’ to pay back Pakistan in its own coin, by encouraging internal inadequacies in NWPF, Sind, and along the Durand Line.
March 3rd, 2012  
Terrorist action is a fundamentally political and/or religious act -- it may ultimately be counterproductive, but to categorize it as an act by mere "criminals" displays a frankly shocking level of incompetence, given the last century or so of history.

I'm even more shocked that the full version of this appeared HERE, apparently without comment, given the generally high quality of the writing on SATP.

Stating that "terrorist = criminal" equates to being like this guy:
March 7th, 2012  
A Can of Man
If you look at the root of the conflict, it is almost entirely economical and / or political. Religion is used to mask the true intentions of the puppet masters.
International Terrorism India's Long Term Strategy and Concerns Lt Gen Chandra Shekha
March 8th, 2012  
Der Alte
Terrorism is a tactic, employed by a wide array of actors. There is no single creed, ethnicity, political persuasion or nationality with a monopoly on terrorism. Individuals and groups of individuals from almost every conceivable background, from late Victorian-era anarchists to Klansmen to North Korean intelligence officers, have conducted terrorist attacks. Because of the impreciseness of the term, we should not refer to individuals as terrorists. In addition to being a poor descriptor, "terrorist" tends to be a politically loaded term.

Traditionally, terrorism has been a tactic of the weak, i.e., those who lack the power to impose their political will through ordinary political or military means. As Carl von Clausewitz noted, war is the continuation of politics by other means; terrorism is a type of warfare, making it also politics by other means. Because it is a tactic used by the weak, terrorism generally focuses on soft, civilian targets rather than more difficult-to-attack military targets.

The type of weapon used does not define terrorism. For example, using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device against an International Security Assistance Force firebase in Afghanistan would be considered an act of irregular warfare, but using it in an attack on a hotel in Kabul would be considered an act of terrorism. This means that militant actors can employ conventional warfare tactics, unconventional warfare tactics and terrorism during the same campaign depending on the situation.

Many terrorist acts have a religious element to them, but that element is normally related to a larger, political goal: Both a militant anti-abortion activist seeking to end legalized abortion and a jihadist seeking to end an U.S. military presence may act according to religious principles, but they ultimately are pursuing a political objective.

Geopolitical cycles will change, and these changes may cause a shift in who employs terrorism and how it is employed. But as a tactic, terrorism will continue no matter what the next geopolitical cycle brings.
June 6th, 2012  
What is terrorism? What does it involve? Who does it involve? In my mind, terrorism is, "evil, horror, and violence. It is the cruelty of killing mass numbers of people for illogical reasons." The Encyclopedia of Britannica describes terrorism as, "the systematic use of terror or unpredictable violence against governments, publics, or individuals, to attain a political objective."