Anti-Terror Day: Combating Terror
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism
Terrorism has time and again raised its ugly head – it is a global menace that several countries are trying to deal with on a war footing. From the USA to Asia, no continent is free from the problems of terror. New Delhi has been raising the issue with other countries bilaterally and at international forums to try and tackle the problem over the years. India has had to deal with both foreign terrorists and local elements from time to time.
If there is one common agenda as far as world leaders are concerned, it is to fight terror. Thousands of lives have been lost due to terror related activities. Yet there are some nations that use it as a tool of state policy and try to further their goals. Unfortunately, we as responsible nation-states, do not even agree to a common definition of terrorism.
The most worrying aspect of global terrorism is that individuals who are already on the CT machinery radar are seen committing carnage. Even with bulk interception, there is no guarantee that attacks would be prevented since analysis is not catching up with collection.
Delhi Declaration of India
The Delhi Declaration of India and 10 ASEAN countries mentioned, for the first time, “cross-border movement of terrorists” and made a commitment to counter the challenge through “close cooperation”. In an endorsement of the longstanding Indian view, these leaders not only agreed on a comprehensive approach to counter “foreign terrorist fighters”, but also supported efforts to target terror groups and sanctuaries.
While stressing that “there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever,” the Delhi Declaration on the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-India partnership also said that they would “deepen cooperation in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, violent extremism and radicalisation through information sharing, law enforcement cooperation and capacity building under the existing ASEAN-led mechanisms”.
For the past many decades, India has been a victim of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir. Its efforts to garner international support to diplomatically isolate Pakistan have borne fruit in recent years, particularly with the recent statements issued by the Trump administration.
But other countries, whose support is critical, have not been as forthcoming in targeting Pakistan, allowing Islamabad to get away with patronising — or at least turning a blind eye towards — India-centric terror groups and leaders. This joint statement with ASEAN leaders could embolden New Delhi’s efforts to list Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, and pressure Pakistan to take action against Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa founder Hafiz Saeed.
The Way Ahead
Is our preventive machinery able to match the changing terrorist methodology? – Unfortunately, governments follow linear thinking. What appear in our discourses are lists of new special squads, better weaponry, satellite imagery, coastal radars and transponders to prevent coastal infiltration. No doubt these are relevant in certain situations but is our counter-terrorist architecture flexible enough to match or surpass the exponential thinking of terrorists?
Not having any reliable record of our overseas workers who are the source of such recruitment – The former Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), which was trying to collect such data during the UPA government’s tenure, was merged with the Ministry of External Affairs after the present NDA government took over. This was a retrograde step as a single-point high-level attention on our overseas workers that had been going on since 2004 was relegated to a minor wing of our vast diplomatic apparatus due to inter-ministerial squabbles.
Empowered Soldiers: For a country that takes pride in its modern, technologically advanced military, India still relies heavily on putting more boots on the ground and on the calibre of the soldier. It is time the Defence Ministry adopted a holistic approach, making sure that the soldier is fully backed by technology and calibrated security drills. Preventing terrorists from scoring a strike is the best defence.
Intelligence Sharing: To deal with the terror threat, there must be far greater sharing of intelligence among agencies worldwide. One of the major challenges that all intelligence agencies face is a qualitative understanding of the newer, and many post-modern threats. These newer generation threats, including those by terror groups and outfits, often lie “below the radar” or beyond the horizon. Anticipating such threats and their nature requires intelligence agencies to be constantly ahead of the curve. Anticipating newer threats is only partly facilitated by today’s technical advances such as new computing and communication technologies. However, these alone are not often enough to meet today’s intelligence needs.
Social Media and Youth: Impressionable minds are very easily lured on the World Wide Web. Terrorism has to be fought at the level of political subversion and that’s where social media plays an enormous role, both by the state and others including terrorists. So the actual fight is sometime misunderstood to be on the ground. That’s not where the fight is indeed. Fight on the ground often has a negative influence on state agencies and forces. Political subversion is the ultimate power of terrorism and that is the ultimate aim and that’s where it has to be fought and political engagement therefore is important.
Connecting the Dots:
- India has the disadvantage of being situated in close proximity to what is being described as the epicentre of global terrorism. In the light of this statement, examine the challenges to India’s internal security
- What is ‘state sponsored terrorism’? Give suitable examples. Is India a victim of this type of terrorism? Substantiate.
- Terrorist organisations and organised crime cartels have not only appropriated each other’s methodologies but have also developed a symbiotic relationship. Do you agree? Illustrate.