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India, Pakistan and terrorism

United Nations General Assembly provided yet another international platform for India to raise the issue of terrorism. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech covered this extremely important issue in a limited number of words to the perfect effect. Terrorism – whether cross border or in any other form – has been India’s biggest security concern for past few decades. Pakistan is the sponsor of all the terrorist activities directed against India. India on the other hand while defending itself against all the attacks continues to advocate diplomatic measures as means to resolve any issue.

Terrorism is used as a state policy by Pakistan. The internal situation in Pakistan has always been volatile from the day that country came into existence. The democracy is unstable which has always given military the upper hand in state affairs. This is one of the important reasons that any discussions with Pakistan’s civilian government over terrorism and Kashmir problem does not yield result since there is a pressure from the military establishment on Pakistan’s civilian government.

India has been trying to build consensus on international terrorism. The consensus has not yet come into effect only because the term terrorism is yet to be defined and agreed upon by all the concerned parties. Each country’s vested interests have prevented formation of an international consensus on terrorism.

Vested interests (which mean strategic interests) of western countries in general and the United States in particular have played a role in creating complications in dealing with terrorism. Pakistan offered a strategic location to US in South Asia which also helped US to keep a check on Russia during the Cold War era. In post Cold War era also Pakistan was US’ partner in fighting Taliban. Only recently there has been change in US’ approach with Trump administration warning Pakistan to control terrorism.

Another factor has been India’s position. India is a rising economic power and an aspiring superpower. The possibility of Pakistan being used as an instrument by western powers to challenge India cannot be denied. The same trend is being continued at present by China. In addition to being India’s neighbour China is an aspiring superpower as well. There has been more of a rivalry between India and China rather than competition. This rivalry has often taken serious turn as was recently experienced in Doklam. Pakistan is an important instrument for China in order to challenge India and also create disruption in India’s development.

India is facing the menace of terrorism for three decades. But it also means that India has a long experience of 30 years of not just facing but also fighting terrorism. This experience is certainly more than the experience of several countries in a similar field. Most of the western countries are less experienced than India when it comes to dealing with terrorism.

India should continue to seek support from the world in order to unite against terrorism and also to expose those who support and sponsor terrorism. In recent times US and even China has raised concerns about terrorism being used by Pakistan. Should these concerns lead to something concrete in favour of India and against Pakistan and international terrorism it would be a big diplomatic victory for India. But India needs to tread carefully. As is evident already, Trump’s policy with respect to US’ involvement away from home remains uncertain. As regards China, although it has questioned Pakistan’s support to terrorism, India cannot count on China’s support. The reason is that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) runs through Gilgit-Baltistan area of Kashmir which is occupied by Pakistan that which violates India’s sovereignty. China has refused to address India’s concern in this matter.

It is in India’s interest to formulate its own strategies to combat terrorism. As mentioned earlier, India’s experience places it in a better position address these concerns. Following an independent strategy would not only lead India towards resolution of this problem it would also push forward India’s aspirations to be superpower.

(The author is an Independent Researcher based in Vadodara and can be reached at – [email protected])

Niranjan Marjani

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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