Terrorism will continue to threaten India: expert

3 02 2009

Source: Dailytimes

By M. Ziauddin

LONDON, Feb 1: India will continue to face a serious jihadi terrorist threat but lacks military options that have strategic-level effects without a significant risk of a military response by Pakistan.This is one of the key conclusions arrived at by Brian Michael Jenkins of US-based think tank Rand Corporation in his testimony (Terrorists can think strategically lessons learned from the Mumbai attacks) presented before the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week (Jan 28).

Another key conclusion of this testimony gleaned from RC’s website is: The focus on Pakistan in this case should not obscure the likelihood that the attackers had local assistance or that other recent terrorist attacks in India appear to have been carried out wholly or partially by Indian nationals. Local radicalisation is a major goal of the terrorists and will remain a major political and social challenge for India.Mr Jenkins believes that neither Indian nor US policy is likely to be able to reduce that threat significantly in the short to medium term. He says most likely the threat will continue to grow and adds significantly, “Other extremists in India inevitably will find inspiration and instruction from the Mumbai attack.”

He declares that safe havens would continue to be key enablers for terrorist groups as they “allow terrorist leaders to recruit, select and train their operators and make it easier for terrorists to plan and execute complex operations, such as the Mumbai attack”.Therefore, at the strategic level, the Mumbai attack underscores, according to Mr Jenkins, the imperative of addressing the trans-national sources of Islamist terrorism in India.

How to do this is an extraordinarily difficult question that will require, he says, the reassessment of basic assumptions concerning policy towards Pakistan by members of the international community.Discussing Pakistan specifically in his testimony, Mr Jenkins says Pakistan continues to play a prominent and problematic role in the overlapping armed conflicts and terrorist campaigns in India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan itself.

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other insurgent and terrorist groups find sanctuary in Pakistan’s turbulent tribal areas.“Pakistan’s principal defence against external pressure is not its nuclear arsenal, but its own political fragility — its government’s less-than-full cooperation is preferable to the country’s collapse and descent into chaos.

“Historically, some of them (terrorist organisations) have drawn on support from the Pakistan government itself. While the government of Pakistan has been helpful in capturing some key terrorist operatives, Pakistan is accused of protecting others. And it has been understandably reluctant to use military force against its own citizens in the remote tribal areas where these groups reside. When it has used military force, government forces have not fared well.“Public sentiment imposes further constraints. Many Pakistanis regard India and the United States, not Al Qaeda or the Taliban, as greater threats to Pakistan’s national security. This was perceived as an obstacle to US counter-terrorist efforts even before 9/11.”

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