Countering Terrorism - A Paradigm Shift

The last decade was marked by strong criticism and condemnation of terrorism specifically state-sponsored terrorism. There was a consensus amongst the international community that there is no justification for any act of terrorism. For decades, Islamist terrorists belonging to groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba have benefited from recruitment, financing, training, and other forms of support.

India and its neighbouring countries have been a constant target of such state- sponsored terrorism. Over the past two decades, despite highs and lows in India-Pakistan relations, Pakistan has not shown any seriousness in order to dismantle this terrorism infrastructure. The previous governments have followed the traditional approach of dialogue and peace-making, reflected in the 1971 liberation of Bangladesh, where the Indian army captured and later released as part of the Shimla peace agreement- 90,000 Pakistani soldiers. However, the sanctity of the Shimla Peace Agreement was not upheld by Pakistan as they did not release 54 Indian soldiers held by them. 

The subsequent governments knew that Pakistan won’t mend its old ways and would seek the support of world leaders like the USA and UK in such a scenario. Further if the extremists manage to launch another Mumbai-like attack on India from their Pakistani bases, no one would be able to stop a serious deterioration in India-Pakistan relations. The preconceived notion that India would come under International pressure had to be altered.

Prime Minister Modi gave fair chance to Pakistan and made a historic stop over at Lahore, spoke to PM Nawaz Sharif and wished him for his birthday. But things went south rapidly when Pakistani terrorist attacked the Pathankot Air Force station in Punjab.  It made evident that India wanted better ties with Pakistan and had perused such steps but Pakistan wasn’t reciprocating.

Though world opinion was on India’s side, we restrained from taking any harsh steps and did what was to be done. PM Modi raised the issue at the BRICS summit held in Goa, highlighting- ‘It is the responsibility of all states to prevent terrorist actions from their territories’. BRICS unanimously recognised the threat posed by terrorism and stressed that combating cross-border terrorism and its supporters will be a key priority for BRICS. 

The Goa Declaration not only urged all the nations to undertake effective implementation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions but also expedite the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN General Assembly without any further delay.  The stage was set with the setting up and the first meeting of the BRICS Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism on 14th September 2016 in New Delhi.

Pakistan was diplomatically isolated at SAARC, South Korea cancelled investment in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and world institutions were denying aid. Now India was prepared to take stringent measures against the promoters and proliferators of terrorism.

In 2016, 19 Army soldiers were killed when terrorist belonging to Jaish- e- Mohammed (JeM) attacked the army base. Shortly after the deadly terror attack in Uri, PM Modi promised that strong action will be taken against Pakistan. India responded with a ground based surgical strike which inflicted deep wound on Pakistan as no country- not even China- questioned India’s move because the world opinion was on India’s side.

Further PM Modi made it clear that surgical strikes was not a one-time affair and every attack on our soil and soldiers will be answered with retaliatory measures.

In 2018, Pakistan was placed on the Financial Action Task Force’s ‘grey list’ as it failed to take action on the terror breeding from its soil. Though China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia sided with Pakistan, India didn’t give up and subsequently, Global Financial Action Task Force blacklisted Pakistan for non-compliance of anti-money laundering and combating terror financing efforts.

In 2019, the Jaish- e- Mohammed (JeM) suicide bombers hit a convoy killing 40 CRPF soldiers. India responded with aerial precision strikes targeting the major terrorist training camps of Jaish- e- Mohammed (JeM). Balakot surgical strike in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan was a testament that India will root out the germs of terror even if they are breeding on another country’s territory.

In the Modi era, India toasted another diplomatic victory after a decade of long struggle as the United Nations designated the Pakistan-based Jaish-a-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a ‘global terrorist’. Even China had to drop its opposition to the UN blacklisting. Subsequently, India declared Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed along with India’s most wanted men as terrorist under the domestic law- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 1967.

The greater pragmatism and assertiveness shown by the present government in comparison to its predecessors has made it evident that the value of the life of a solider is of paramount importance and failure to combat terrorist activities will not be taken as an excuse. What the UPA government could not execute during its 10-years tenure, NDA did in a span of 5-years via consistent diplomatic efforts.


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