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Editorial of the Day (28th June): Cross Border Terror

Context

  • Reasi terrorist attack (2023) occurred on the day of PM Narendra Modi’s third-term oath, similar in timing and intent to the 2014 attack on India’s Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan.
  • Both attacks aimed to undermine significant political moments for PM Modi and India.

Historical and Strategic Overview

  • Encouragement from Afghan Jihad: Pakistan, inspired by the defeat of a superpower in Afghanistan, believed similar tactics could be used to destabilise India in Kashmir.
  • Early Responses: Initially, India’s response in the 1990s involved developing counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism strategies.
  • Pakistani Leadership’s Stance:
    • Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in the 1990s supported separatist movements in J&K, leveraging terrorism as a strategic tool.
    • Bhutto halted talks unless Kashmir was a primary topic, Sharif later initiated structured dialogue focusing on multiple issues including terrorism.

India’s Counter-terrorism Strategy

  • 1996 Assembly Elections: Signified a dual approach of force and political activity to manage the insurgency.
  • Simla Agreement (1972): Originally aimed at peaceful resolution, but Pakistan’s continued terrorism led India to treat these acts as strategic threats necessitating forceful responses.
  • Composite Dialogue (1998): Included terrorism as a discussion point; however, Pakistan showed reluctance to address India’s terrorism concerns genuinely.

Military and Diplomatic Measures

  • From 1998-2016: Successive Indian Prime Ministers chose diplomacy over military action despite public and political pressures for more direct responses.
  • Post-2001 Parliament Attack: India mobilised military forces but refrained from direct conflict following assurances from Pakistan.
  • Post-2008 Mumbai Attack: Opted for global diplomatic support against Pakistan instead of kinetic military action.

Shifts in Policy Post-2016

  • Surgical Strikes and Balakot Airstrike: Marked a strategic shift to more direct military responses following significant terrorist attacks.
  • Doctrine of Pre-emption: Established post-Pulwama (2019) to justify proactive strikes against imminent terrorist threats from Pakistan.

Ongoing Challenges and Diplomatic Efforts

  • International Recognition: Major powers generally recognize Pakistan’s use of terrorism, but plausible deniability remains a challenge.
  • Evidence Sharing: India continues to share evidence linking Pakistani groups to terrorism to maintain international credibility.
  • Future Intentions: External Affairs Minister’s expressed the ambitious intention of finding a “solution to years-old cross-border terrorism”. It suggests ongoing efforts to address and curb cross-border terrorism.

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