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Does the Kashmir insurgency offer ISAF any tips? July 30, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Pakistan, Snedden, Christopher , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

Indian paramilitary forces have been trying to end the anti-Indian insurgency in the Kashmir Valley since it began in 1988. Nevertheless, this insurgency continues, with ethnic Kashmiris currently agitated again. Overall, however, casualties are down, tourists have returned in large numbers to the valley, and many Kashmiris are less inclined to support the militancy. This is partly due to war weariness. It also is partly because the alternative of joining Pakistan is relatively unattractive, while independence is totally unattainable. The Kashmir insurgency is very different from what the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confronts in Afghanistan.  Yet there are some similarities from which ISAF could learn some lessons.

First, from the outset of its troubles in the Kashmir Valley, the Indian government’s commitment in Jammu and Kahsmir (J&K) has been open ended. India has never set a date for the departure of its security forces. Repeatedly, it has made it clear that these forces will stay in the valley for ‘as long as it takes’. Conversely, governments reluctantly associated with ISAF want to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan as soon as possible or have suggested dates when exit strategies might commence. This has given the Taliban a powerful reason to conserve their resources and await their enemies’ invariable departure from Afghanistan after which, presumably, they will really assert themselves. (more…)

India’s Northeast insurgencies: a somewhat forgotten story June 10, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Kirpalani, Kunal P , comments closed

Kunal P. Kirpalani

India’s Islamist and Maoist insurgencies receive critical attention within public and governmental circles domestically and abroad. Incidents, including the Islamist terrorist 26/11 attack of Mumbai and the Indian Army crackdown on Maoist militants in West Bengal’s Lalgarh district, are prime examples. However, general awareness of tribal rebellions occurring within the states of Northeast India is lacking. This is despite the fact that the Assamese, Naga and Mizo guerrilla movements are on the rise. The following is a brief introductory analysis on the causes of these insurgencies and why they should no longer be ignored.

What seems to be a common grass-root cause in South Asian insurgencies is socioeconomic and political developmental deprivation. India’s Northeast is no exception. It is a region that lags behind most of India developmentally. While the southern and western states reap the benefits of India’s booming economy, the economic situation in the Northeast has deteriorated. Poverty rates in the Northeast states linger officially at 22.3 per cent, well under the 28.3 per cent national average. There has even been an improvement in literacy rates, which are higher than the mean rate for the country (65.38 per cent) including those of women.

India’s states of the Northeast.  Source – Wikimedia


India’s Maoist threat: ‘state power’ versus state malaise June 8, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, India , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

In 2005, PM Manmohan Singh claimed that the Maoist challenge was India’s “most serious security problem”.  That surprised many commentators at the time, who were fixated on violent jihadi terrorism.

Singh is an economist and would have been keenly aware that the 200-odd Maoist affected districts (out of over 600 – see map) are spread over India’s minerals and energy (coal) provinces and its timber-bearing, broadleaf forests.  In other words, they constitute a ‘dagger at the heart’ of India’s vital extractive industries.

This general co-location of Maoists (also known as ‘Naxalites’) and extractive industries is no surprise.  India’s tribal population (Adiwasis) inhabit the less urbanised and more forested regions where the minerals, coal and timber happen to be.  They have a deep, spiritual relationship with the land somewhat similar to the Australian Aboriginals.  Corruption and incompetence mean that they are often dispossessed by extractive industries with little or no compensation.  This has forced many into the arms of the Maoists.

India’s so-called ‘Red Corridor’.  Source: Wikimedia