Terrorism Update
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Pakistan's adventurism in Kargil last year has made the month of May a South Asian watershed, marking the beginning of the Indian campaign to drive out the appalling gaggle of mercenaries, 'mujahiddeen', and regular soldiers who had crept in over the preceding winter to occupy a number of critical heights in this, till-then-peaceful, sector of Kashmir. May is also of great personal and institutional significance at Faultlines, since the inaugural issue was published this month last year, and the present volume marks the transition into the second year of its quarterly publication.

It has been a year of both remarkable successes against terrorism, and of considerable and tragic failures. In Sri Lanka, even as the world's hopes of a peaceful resolution rose with the prospects of Norwegian mediation, critical military reverses for the Government in the Jaffna peninsula inflicted huge losses of life, and pushed the prospects of peace far into an uncertain future.

The Kargil debacle provoked a military coup in Pakistan, bringing into power the very forces that had planned and engineered the failed military adventure in this sector. The present military dictatorship in this country has deep and complex linkages with the forces and institutions of the Islamic Fundamentalist terror that has, for over a decade now, been exported from Pakistan, not only into India, but deep into Eastern Europe as well, and even to China.

Within India, it has been a traumatic year for Kashmir. Violence escalated steadily as Pakistan initiated what it apparently and irrationally hoped would be the 'endgame' in that State. A rising loss of civilian lives, and mounting casualties among the Security Forces marked much of the year. But the last few months suggest that the post-Kargil levels of attrition cannot be sustained by the terrorists in the face of an increasingly, though still insufficiently, focused Indian response. Despite radical shifts in international opinion against Pakistan, however, the prospects of an early peace in Kashmir remain remote.

Although there have been sustained casualties in various States of India's Northeast, there has been much by way of improvement as well. The ceasefire agreement with the dominant Naga insurgent group has survived an abortive assassination attempt on the Chief Minister of the State, as well as the arrest of one of the movement's leaders, Thuengaling Muivah, in Thailand. The Centre has also forged agreements with the Khaplang faction of the Naga insurgents, as well as with the Bodos in Assam. In Assam,  the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has weakened steadily since it adopted a pro-Pakistan posture during the Kargil 'war', and there has been a steady flow of surrenders among its cadre, culminating in the laying down of arms by over 500 militants, including a large number of the second-rung leadership, in April 2000. However, the situation in the Karbi Anglong district in this State is disturbing, as the Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) have launched a campaign of mass murder to expel the non-tribal population from the area. The situation in the State of Tripura is also worsening, as an increasingly mercenary and criminalised movement spawns dozens of 'revolutionary' groups whose undisguised objective is extortion and the criminal appropriation of wealth.

There are disturbing trends in Nepal as well, though these are yet to produce the upheavals that terrorism has in other parts of South Asia. Nevertheless, Maoist 'revolutionaries' now move across the rural hinterland in armed bands of up to a hundred men and more, and casualties are slowly but inexorably rising. The government has reportedly decided to deploy the Army in six of the insurgency-affected districts.

The waning of old movements and the emergence of the new, strategic shifts and innovations in the technologies and tactics of the new low intensity wars in South Asia make the tasks of analysis and response the more urgent. In this volume, Faultlines takes another look at some of the disturbing realities of terror on the sub-continent.

K.P.S. Gill

May 10, 2000, New Delhi





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