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Changing security paradigm in South Asia: India’s offensive against terror groups

By Assistant Professor Sunil Kumar, School of Law, Lovely Professional University Phagwara , India.

Military Truck Convoy on the high mountain Leh - Manali highway on Jammu and Kashmir, Nothern India

The latest round of face-off taking place between the two neighborly countries of India and Pakistan poses multiple questions for global security and provides an occasion to assess the threat perception in the region of South Asia. Both countries have been engaged in a protracted conflict since the last few decades. The significance of recent confrontation lies in the fact that it occurs at a time when nations are increasingly adopting a ‘zero tolerance attitude’ towards acts of terrorism. While speaking at 16th Foreign Ministers Meeting of India-Russia-China at Wuhan (China), External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj has appealed to all nations to adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against terrorists and terror groups. In fact, Unites States of America and United Nations have been advocating ‘zero tolerance policy’ for long.

It is vital to remember in this respect that the definition of terrorism has undergone several re-interpretations and is an acknowledged widespread phenomenon.

Rise of non-state actors

After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks India, a new category of terrorists came to the fore i.e. non state actors. India had submitted a detailed dossier to Pakistan at the time of the attacks, detailing the association of Pakistani army in assisting and helping non-state actors (a loose term for radical and highly motivated terrorists group or organisation not affiliated to any nation).Through a terse official reply, Pakistan had denied any involvement in the whole episode terming it as an act by ‘non-state actors’ at that point of time. Recently, ousted Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif admitted that non-state actors indeed played a pivotal role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Post 26/11 Mumbai attacks, this marked a pivotal diplomatic shift on the part of Pakistan as taking shelter under this argument Pakistan could further its political interests by secretly harbouring terror camps on its territory. The argument was easy to proffer as it implied that terror acts were beyond its control and as those are essentially being carried out by non state actors.

Security Paradigm Shift

Much has changed since then.

India now boasts of an aggressive policy where in principle, it refuses to negotiate with terrorists as their prime objective is to create chaos and destabilize peace in the region.

Pulwama attack in Kashmir region on Indian territory on 14th of February, 2019, actually was a cruel jolt for the nation as the mastermind of this attack on paramilitary truck convoy happens to be Maulana Masood Azhar, who was released by Indian government in year 1999 during the IC-814 hijack episode.India has persistently maintained that Pakistan is harbouring terrorist camps on its soil and has not taken concrete action to dismantle their apparatus. Pakistan could not check rise of Jaish-e-Mahomed, terrorist group which owned up the Pulwama attack.

India has responded by launching an air strike to eliminate the terror base of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan. This marks a fundamental shift in the foreign policy of India as till now it resorted to appealing to international community and United Nations in particular to act tough against Pakistan but now it intends to clearly align diplomacy with strong military action against terror camps. India also refuses to call its latest air strike a “military strike” and rather calls it a ‘pre-emptive’ strike, thus marking a departure from its long standing position of

non invasive action on foreign territory. This trend is now clearly discernible post Uri attack in year 2016 on Indian security forces. India had then responded with surgical strikes where highly trained commandos using sophisticated war tactics had eliminated terror launch pads in Pakistan. Offensive against terror groups on multiple fronts may now become the mainstay of Indian foreign policy.

The South Asia region in the face of fresh offensive undertaken by India against terror groups remains tense. Peace and stability in the region now hinges on hard diplomacy and effective action against terror groups like Jaish –e-Mohammed and Lashkar –e-Taiba by India and Pakistan.


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