Terrorism Update
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With General Parvez Musharraf’s coup, Pakistan has once again reasserted its position as the epicentre of instability in Asia. Not only has this brought that country under the military jackboot for the fourth time in its brief history, it has put in charge the very leadership that has actively supported and promoted the lawless Taliban, and that was directly responsible for the misconceived joint Army-terrorist aggression in Kargil.

These events are, however, no more than the most recent acts in a tragedy that nation has been playing out for over five decades, and to which it is condemned by the very presuppositions of its creation. Born out of a philosophy of hatred and exclusion, the politics of rage have become the defining character of its existence. Worse, through legions of mujahiddeen trained in its madarsas, this undiscriminating rage has become its primary export in the geopolitical neighbourhood. Unless the very essence of this politics is renounced – and that would imply the renunciation of that country’s raison d’etre – there is little hope that Pakistan can reverse its accelerating spiral into chaos.

This is bad news for the entire region. Afghanistan has already been consigned to a bloody and unending anarchy, in large part by forces that have their origin in Pakistan (though the architects of the Cold War are equally to blame). The same sources arm, train and fund cross border terrorism in many potential flashpoints in the Asian region – most prominently in India, but also in the Xinjiang Uighur region of China, in Chechnya, and most recently in Daghestan.

While the ‘great powers’ of the contemporary world debate the niceties of accurately defining cross border terrorism, or of supporting the new junta in Pakistan, those who are the targets of this international terror will have to evolve an effective defence against it. This task becomes the more urgent as we look towards a future where weapons of mass destruction and other devastating technological innovations are married to the mujahiddeen mindset, a problem that K.P.S. Gill explores in his paper. These target-nations will also have to re-examine their own vulnerabilities. The most prominent of these is their failure to establish viable and efficient institutions of law enforcement, justice administration and equitable governance that are a democracy’s strongest bulwark against disorder. This is the underlying theme of the essays in this volume. Significantly, two papers here examine aspects of insurgencies in India’s Northeast, a region that has long been neglected by an Indian ‘mainstream’ that is yet to come to terms with this nation’s diversity.

Ajai Sahni,

October, 26, 1999

New Delhi





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