Defeating the anti-India jihad

India needs an offensive strategy too

Praveen Swami concludes his comprehensive two part series (linkthanks Chandra) on the origins, rise and strategy of the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Indian arm with a call for ‘giving substance to India’s promise of secularism’ alongside improved intelligence and policing.

Swami’s prescriptions are all necessary conditions, but by themselves are not sufficient for India to secure a victory. The strategic environment under which Pakistan sponsors these terrorists, exploiting Islamic fundamentalist movements in various countries to its own advantage, is unlikely to change merely because of communal harmony, better intelligence and policing. But the war analogy is correct — it is war in which India cannot win merely using a defensive strategy. The jihadis can go on opening front after front, with each small success drawing closer to their objective of setting off cataclysmic communal violence. Clearly, giving substance to the promise of secularism requires India to address the external forces that challenge it too.

13 thoughts on “Defeating the anti-India jihad”

  1. Nitin: You say it is necessary but not sufficient. May be. But many security experts include B. Raman believe that Lashkar-type groups could not get a foothold in South India before 1992. BM demolition served as a breakthrough for ISI in getting a foothold among angry Muslims and then the radical indoctrination started, then Coimbatore, Mumbai blasts all happend. One may say that right now it is too late, and we have to take the fight to the source of terror. But suppose Lashkar will have a Plan B too just in case all their camps are destroyed in Pak in an Indian aerial strike, they sure will have sympathizers in India. As a part of terror we have to address this problem of home-grown terrorists albeit not through the pseudo-secular policies of the UPA.

  2. Cynical Nerd,

    Undoubtedly. My fear is that sorting out the internal business will be taken to be a substitute for the external one.

  3. I would think LeT types would have gotten foothold in most parts of India even without the masjid demolition – the reason for apparent insult to Islam would be different as we can see in UK, in the rest of Europe, Southeast Asia, and West Asia itself.

    Also, as IE editorializes (http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=85602), UPA is already working on destroying the secular fabric of constitution – the ever expanding job quotes based on caste is making a jump to social policy quotes based on religion. Continuing their five decade tradition, apparently this is how Congress I and its commie allies want to spend their five years in power – making India a security and social basket case in the 21st century.

  4. I would think LeT types would have gotten foothold in most parts of India even without the masjid demolition – the reason for apparent insult to Islam would be different as we can see in UK, in the rest of Europe, Southeast Asia, and West Asia itself.

    Chandra Dulam:
    Probably, but not for the reason you mentiond. After the withdrawal of Soviet Union from Afghanistan in 1988 and its subsequent collapse in 1990, the mujahideen led by (Al-Zawhari, bin laden, etc.) sincerely believed that it is they who brought down the Communist Empire. Obviously, without American weapons, intelligence and Saudi petro-dollars, they could’nt have done it in Afghanistan. And Soviet Union would have collapsed anyways.

    It was this perceived sense of victory that gave the Islamists a confidence booster and they started going after Infidel governments world-over (Algeria, Egypt and Kashmir).

    The question is could the ISI installed itself so easily in South India and conduct spectacular attacks like it did in Coimbatore if it did not have the support of local Muslim radical groups like Al-Umma or Muslim Defence Force. And could these home-grown groups have succeeded if not for the sympathy amongst the wider Muslim community?

  5. Cynical Nerd, if you would notice, my examples are not what one would call troubled spots – UK, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Saudi, Bali, Singapore, and Australia to mention just a few. So yes, I do believe ISI/LeT would have been able to establish their presence in the rest of India just like they have in most of Nepal and Bangladesh – it may have taken them more persuasion to get there.

  6. Ok, let’s assume that the Islamists were crushed by the Soviets in Afghanistan or are still battling them to this date. Do you still think they would’ve managed what you say?

  7. Cynical Nerd, I am not quite sure what you are getting yet. If you are saying that the Mujahideens, after throwing Soviets out of Afghanistan, with no jobs are terrorizing people, I think we are way beyound that now.

    I am not an expert by any means in these matters, but if all these guys train at one place, meet at one place, and their have leaders meet at one place (unfortunately for us, that place is in our neighbourhood) they are one organization. For them India is just one more front along with US, Europe, East Asia, and West Asia. The only twist with respect to India is that Indian front has the support and weight of an entirely legitimate national army (and its spy network). Our own incompetent netas and Hindu-Muslim clashes (which go back pre-independence) do not help. But the latter are enablers.

    Recent Bangalore shooting and Delhi bombing are not about revenge – revenge would stop after taking its toll. These acts are about, to put it politically incorrectly, bloody borders and civilizational clashes. The response has to be more than defensive – i.e. keeping Indian secularism intact. The response has to be offensive to root out the core from its roots. Unfortunately, although the core is in our own neighbourhood, we are unable or unwilling to do anything about it. And so we propose peace and try and wait it out (while working to identify satisfying reasons for terror) hoping that someone else would do our job (apparently we now talking to Saudis about it).

  8. Chandra Dulam,

    Very well and cogently put. The spread of Islamist radicalism can not be viewed in the context of the Babri-Masjid alone. This was a global phenomenon post-1979. The Iranian revolution and Sa’udi oil wealth helped contribute to it, not just in India but in Malaysia and Indonesia as well.

    Best regards

  9. Chandra Dulam: I agree with your Para II and III, in effect your conclusion! You are right that if not this Pakistan will always find a another reason to indoctrinate jihadis to attack India – Bhutto’s “Bleed India through 1000 cuts” comes to mind.

    My point was just that the immediate esclation of violence in J&K in late 80s/early 90s and the almost civil war like conditions which prevailed in Egypt, Algeria and Afghanistan was directly liked to the Soviet defeat. When France intervened in Algeria supporting the secular military government, it too was targetted (Paris Metro bombing in 1995) by the Algerian terrorist group GIA (Groupe Islamiste Arme). In Egypt, Western tourists were killed by groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Ofcourse, we are beyond all this now.

    Perhaps you may be right that one day or another the chicken would have come home to roost.

    Jaffna:
    I would be interested to know about the origin of Islamists movement in South-East Asia.

    best reagrds,

  10. Facinating reading for me as I sit in San Diego. I have family in both Karachi and Bombay on my wife’s side. I am optimistic especially about what I see as changes in the relations between India and the United States. And beyond that hopefull about rapprochment between India and Pakistan. It seems so stupid to fight your relatives. Cricket diplomacy seems to catalyse a longing for peace on both sides of the border. This is a positive thing. I have met people in Kabul, Karachi, and Bombay who just want to get on with a better future. And in Puna and on the freeways of Karachi and even in the building craze around Kabul that future seems tantalisingly close.
    We are all confronting the OBM challenge. India and the United States will win this war on terror when “moderate or peacefull” people decide that their future does not include allowing the killing of people, just because they follow another religion.
    Looking at this from the US, it appears that the current terror war sprang from Saudi Arabia and it’s oil money fueled spread of extreme forms of Islam, ie Wahabism.
    Deal with that and the problems between India and Pakistan hopefully will be much reduced.

  11. At least for last a decade or so it would be fool hardy to even contemplate that India finds a natural enemy in Pakistan so why is it that we still fight each other. My oinion says fault lines are in islamabad or rather in rawalpindi cantonment.

    for almost all the time of its existance pakistan has never known a representative goverment or one that has ‘development ‘ as its key word.

    hence today we have a state that needs emotions- strong ones to be ruled.
    so if army has to remain in power, it must have a powerful enemy to justify it.
    So pakistan has India!
    This reason still reamins, hence the necessaty of opposing India.
    In such a scenario Cricket diplomacy won’t work nor will US’ pressure.
    Any serious measure will be that of trade.
    That alone can make even a thought of war between the neighbours a terrible thought. That alone can assure average pakis that Indians will loose as much as them , in case of a conflict.
    That alone can cut off Pak army’s clout and return them to barracks.

    Untill then lets watch Indo-pak cricket matches with Pakis selected be general & brigadiers!!!

  12. also the LeT activities – its penetration is hardly a problem.
    On last count total terrorists/seccionists were at best hardly 2000 inside J& K.

    Mumbai crime branch puts the sleeper cells in maharashtra at hardly 20-25.

    Its not that scary! We are not going to become algeria. No civil war is around ( Naxals exepted)
    Also the indian security setup has done some nice job guys. show some appritiation for them.

    For every state its good to have some enemies – it teaches them the introspection.

    We are being attacked for being free. And thats the answere to these attacks.
    If someone makes IITs IISc AIIMS a fortress i’ll protest.

    If their objective is to scare us the answere is what mumbai gave after Bomb blasts – we are not!!!!!

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