Follow by Email

Sunday, July 19, 2009

#2467, 14 January 2008
Understanding Minority-Perpetrated Terrorism Firdaus AhmedFreelancer e-mail: firdyahmed@yahoo.com
The National Security Adviser, M K Narayanan, has described the government's position on the current instability in Pakistan saying that the country is "dangerous and troubled" and that "India has to insulate itself from these dangerous tendencies." In the same statement, he said that the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, stands vindicated in believing that India and Pakistan face a common threat from terrorism. It is important to dissect this, for to misunderstand, or misrepresent the threat, would amount to wrong diagnosis resulting in inadequate remedies.
India has preferred to project itself as a victim of transnational radical Islam. This had a strategic spin-off in developing the 'strategic partnership' with the US, while helping the government avoid interventions carrying political cost. The extent to which India appears on al Qaeda's radar screen is, however, debatable. It needs to be examined whether the terrorist attacks faced by India like, most recently, the brazen attack on the CRPF camp in Rampur (UP), originate from other causes.
It is arguable that the association of terrorist groups within India, in Kashmir and elsewhere, with radical Islam is of a tactical nature, not amounting to any strategic linkage. Acknowledging this foregrounds local causes demanding attention. To disavow this direction of thought as legitimate would involve getting enmeshed in the GWOT - with its latest front opening up inside Pakistan - and, thereby, make the dominant belief a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Terrorism in India is widely believed to have two foci - Kashmir, and the disaffection of sections of minority communities across India. In both cases, the role of radical Islam is not central to the problem, with that space being occupied by situational factors. Kashmir has as its basis India's long-standing territorial dispute with Pakistan, with the proxy war there being Pakistan's strategic assertion of its locus standi. This has spilt over into the rest of India like the attack on Parliament. It is here that linkages with 'sleeper cells' come to the fore.
However, these terrorist cells have their origin in indigenous issues, like the perception of justice not being done in cases of riots and riots amounting to 'pogroms.' Undergirding this proximate cause are two larger nationwide issues. The first is the adverse statistical indicators on the human development of the minorities, giving rise to the possibility of inadvertent or premeditated exclusionary policies. The second issue is the threat of majoritarian nationalism, which feeds on an inflated threat perception of minority extremism.
The association of the Indian variant of terrorism with transnational radical Islam is peripheral, as evident from reading the statements of the organization reproduced in the anonymous expose of the GWOT, "Imperial Hubris: Why the West is losing the War on Terror." Kashmir figures only tangentially, along with other areas where Muslims are seen to have been imposed upon by governments such as Chechnya or Bosnia. Thus, Kashmir must be viewed as a bilateral strategic issue and handled accordingly, rather than having enlightened initiatives being kept in abeyance awaiting the indeterminate outcome of the GWOT.
Terror cells elsewhere in India are evidence of Pakistani strategic design to pare down India, whose strides as an emerging power have transformed the strategic landscape in South Asia. In taking advantage of India's self-created internal fissures, Pakistan has responded as a weak power operating within a realist framework. Bangladesh, to the extent it is implicated in this design, is also indulging in 'normal intelligence games.' The asymmetry in power between India and its periphery, and its outstanding inter-state problems, have greater salience here.
The Indian groups in question seek legitimacy through the use of the religious idiom, but it is indigenous grievances that form the core. Linkages with radical Islam are tactical in that the perception of 'Islam under siege' helps lend legitimacy and furnish logistical, training and financial bases, to these groups. Therefore, addressing the issues giving rise to minority alienation requires a three-tier political action.
For the state, the direction has been illumined in the earlier Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee findings and the recently released Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission report. For the national parties, the approach lies in curbing the latent power of the far right. Finally, the respective leaderships of minority communities are also responsible for the constitutional articulation of their grievances and guarding against external manipulation. That this is often unfortunately not forthcoming is evident from the anti-Taslima agitation in Kolkata. This brings out the magnitude of the problem faced by the state and secular national parties - one best met by first arriving at a more variegated understanding of the problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment