Insurgencies in South Asia

In recent years, militant groups in the beautiful Swat valley, led by radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah, have been attacking and killing civilians as well as security forces in scenic Swat. In some 60 villages, the militants have set up a de facto "parallel government" with Islamic courts imposing sharia law. The region is effectively under militant control despite the presence of 20,000 Pakistani troops. Local opponents of the militants have been harshly critical of Pakistani civil society for its lack of concern for their plight as well as critical of the military and provincial government for their ineffective measures for controlling the tide of militancy.

Media reports indicate that the Taliban are enforcing a complete ban on female education in the Swat district. Some 400 private schools enrolling 40,000 girls have been shut down. At least 10 girls' schools that tried to open after the January 15, 2009 deadline by the Taliban were blown up by the militants in the town of Mingora, the headquarters of the Swat district. "More than 170 schools have been bombed or burned, along with other government-owned buildings."

There is widespread sorrow and outrage in Pakistan over the ongoing situation in Swat and other parts of Pakistan which are being threatened by a growing insurgency. Let us put these troubling events in perspective.

Throughout human history, there have been bloody insurgencies. The Ridda wars in the early days of Islam during the first Caliph Aboobakr's rule were fought to defeat an insurgency that threatened the existence of Islamic state soon after Prophet Muhammad's death.

For those of us living in US or UK, let’s not ignore the history of prolonged and extremely violent civil wars fought by these two nations in earlier times.

The situation today is no different in South Asia. Just look in Pakistan’s neighborhood for comparison. The beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka has had a long and bloody insurgency by a Tamil separatist group LTTE, initially created, trained and funded by Indian Intelligence agency RAW. Still very active, the Sri Lanka war marked the beginning of the suicide bombing as a tactic to rattle the government and population and it has claimed tens thousands of lives.

In India, a Maoist group calling themselves the “Naxalites” have exploited growing economic disparities in India to carve out a “red corridor” of activity that runs from the Nepalese border to the jungles of central India. Fighting in thirteen of India’s twenty-eight provinces and boasting between 10,000 and 20,000 dedicated followers, the Naxalites pose India’s biggest internal security threat. In contrast to the scattered actions of Kashmiris, the Naxalites are in every way a traditional communist insurgency. UC Berkeley Professor Chhibber has described the total absence of any legitimate civil authority in large parts of India that remind of the parts of Pakistan's FATA region. The Indian government relies on private militias to enter such Maoist-controlled areas for limited purpose and duration, when absolutely needed.

Since 1989 more than 80,000 have died in insurgencies in Kashmir and the northeastern states. Manmohan Singh himself has called the Maoist insurgency centered on the state of Chhattisgarh the biggest internal security threat to India since independence. The Maoists, however, are confined to rural areas; their bold tactics haven't rattled Indian middle-class confidence in recent years as much as the bomb attacks in major cities have, according to Indian writer Pankaj Mishra.

As the insurgencies intensify, the domestic and international critics of Pakistani military are growing louder. A large part of the criticism stems from the military's role in national affairs that has not always been in the best interest of the people. Many Pakistanis have significant grievances against the past actions of the military. But this harsh criticism is clearly not helpful in dealing with the current challenges. Among the various institutions in Pakistan, we must recognize that the military, backed by a comprehensive political strategy, is the only strong institution capable of dealing with both internal and external threats at this time in the nation's history. That is not to say that seek a purely military solution. The primary purpose of counterinsurgency operations should be to protect the ordinary citizens and neutralize the hard-core terrorists with the help of the population. It requires a strategy to win the support of the people rather than just to kill or capture the terrorists.

The best thing for Pakistanis is to have courage and patience and not give up hope in the face of extreme difficulty. Counterinsurgency is something very difficult for the conventional army of any nation, designed, equipped and trained mainly to fight conventional wars. But Pakistani military and civilian leadership are learning from their experience and they can and will eventually defeat the insurgents, if the people of Pakistan support their efforts by words and deeds. It is much easier to criticize and express dismay at these events than to actually deal with such events effectively. Despondency is our worst enemy. Let us ignore the prophets of doom and gloom and not allow ourselves to be demoralized.

Related Links:

Maoist Insurgency in India

Ridda Wars

Sri Lanka's Civil War

Obama's Kashmir Focus

Masters of Suicide Bombing

Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan

India's Research and Analysis Wing


Riaz Haq said…
#UAE-funded 100-bed $5.5 million Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed #Hospital opens in #Swat #Pakistan #KP

A 100-bed state-of-the-art Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Hospital in Saidu Sharif, Swat District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, has been inaugurated at a cost of more than $5.5 million (Dh20.18 million).
It was implemented on the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the follow up of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, to support the health sector of Pakistan.
Essa Abdullah Al Basha Al Nuaimi, UAE Ambassador to Pakistan, Abdullah Khalifa Al Gafli, Director of UAE Project to Assist Pakistan (UAEPAP), toured different wards and sections and were briefed about latest health equipment installed in the hospital.
Speaking on the occasion, Gen. Sharif extended thanks and appreciation to the Shaikh Khalifa and Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, for their continuous support to Pakistan and their generous humanitarian initiatives.
He said the Emirati political leadership and people have provided significant support to the people of this area through establishing a number of humanitarian and development projects, which contributed to developing the infrastructure in the various sectors.

He added that Shaikh Khalifa Hospital is one of the most important health projects completed in the northwestern province of Pakistan.
In his speech, Al Nuaimi hailed the UAE’s humanitarian approach that supports fraternal and friendly peoples under the wise leadership of Shaikh Khalifa.
Under the UAEPAP programme many projects have been carried out in humanitarian, educational, health and infrastructural development including construction of bridges and provision of clean drinking water.
Shaikh Khalifa hospital is built on 5,430 square metres and has latest diagnosis, treatment, laboratory and medical equipment. The hospital has 3 surgery rooms, 3 admission wards, emergency and other departments.
Riaz Haq said…
Deadly ambush raises fears of #Maoists rebel resurgence in #India. #Chattisgarh #Modi

The attack, which killed 25 soldiers, has raised fears that the five-decade insurgency is seeing a revival. This year is already one of the bloodiest in recent years, with 72 soldiers killed in the rebel heartland of Chhattisgarh. By comparison, 36 were killed during all of last year.

“You let him die,” Kumar’s 15-year-old daughter cried to the soldiers carrying the body of her father to his home in the northern hill town of Palampur on Tuesday night. “Why didn’t you do something?”

Indian soldiers have been battling the rebels across several central and northern states since 1967, when the militants — also known as Naxalites — began fighting to demand more jobs, land and wealth from natural resources for the country’s poor indigenous communities. The government has said the insurgents, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, pose the country’s most serious internal security threat.

Before this year, the deadliest Maoist attack was in 2010, when rebels killed 76 soldiers in Chhattisgarh, one of India’s poorest states despite vast mineral riches. Rebel attacks in other Indian states are less frequent, but also sometimes result in casualties.

Analysts said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is slipping in its commitment to fight the rebels, and that authorities should be deploying more police and paramilitary troops while simultaneously focusing on boosting economic development for poor villagers who may be moved to support the rebels.

“It’s as if no lessons have been learned from similar attacks in the past,” said Ajai Sahni, a security analyst in New Delhi.

The troops attacked on Monday had been having lunch along a partially built road cutting through scrubland, taking a break from scouting the area ahead of a construction team, when they were ambushed by about 300 armed rebels, touching off a three-hour gunbattle.

“I find it incomprehensible that the Indian state cannot deploy enough soldiers to protect 70 kilometers of road within the country,” Sahni said.

Facing a resurgence in the rebellion, the government should change its standard deployment and surveillance tactics, he said. Authorities also need to improve living standards for local villagers, noting that none had warned the troops about the presence of hundreds of armed rebels moving through the region.

Years of neglect — marked by a lack of jobs, school and health care clinics — have helped to isolate the local villagers, making them open to overtures by the rebels, who speak their tribal languages and have promised to fight for a better future with more education and job opportunities.

The “government needs to reduce the economic deprivation, which has led to an alienation of the local people,” Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Raj Kadyan, a defense analyst, told India Today television channel.

Other analysts noted that Monday’s attack occurred when the soldiers deviated from the standard operating procedures by sitting as a group for lunch, without anyone standing watch, as reported by soldiers who survived the attack.

One survivor said they’d first been approached by villagers, whom the rebels then followed.

“We thought it was a group of villagers coming toward us, when the rebels began firing from behind,” said Sher Bahadur, who was among six soldiers injured.
Riaz Haq said…
#SriLanka #Muslim leaders had warned #SriLankan government about activities of radical group #India based National Thowheed Jamath (#NTJ) alleged to have carried out #EasterAttackLK. #SriLankaTerrorAttack #ColomboTerrorAttack

For members of Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, it’s no surprise that local jihadist group National Thowheed Jamath is being blamed for deadly bombings that killed nearly 300 people on Easter Sunday.

Hilmy Ahamed, vice president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, said he warned military intelligence officials about the group and its leaders about three years ago. On Monday afternoon, Sri Lanka’s government said National Thowheed Jamath was responsible for six suicide bombings at Christian churches and luxury hotels.

“Targeting the non-Muslim community is something they encourage -- they say you have to kill them in the name of religion,” Ahamed said in a phone interview from Colombo on Monday. “I personally have gone and handed over all the documents three years ago, giving names and details of all these people. They have sat on it. That’s the tragedy.”

The National Thowheed Jamath has broken up into various groups as individual leaders pursued separate funding sources, Ahamed said. Although not all members of the group were radicalized, the group is "extremist in their thinking," he added.

Sri Lanka Says Local Jihadist Group Behind Easter Sunday Blasts

As Sri Lanka continues to treat the wounded, questions are being raised -- including by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe -- about why Sri Lanka didn’t act more promptly on warnings ahead of the Easter attacks. The government is now investigating possible links to international terrorist organizations as well.

Sri Lanka’s Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne on Monday called on the inspector general of police to resign.

"The intelligence services had done the work, but it was not acted on at higher levels," he told reporters in Colombo.

Harin Fernando, a cabinet minister, circulated an internal security memo dated earlier this month that warned the group was "getting ready for suicide attacks on popular Catholic churches and the Indian High Commission." It also said the group’s members were "inciting hatred" among online followers.

“Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored,” Fernando said.

National police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera did not respond to several phone calls on Monday.

Civil War
Sri Lanka only recently recovered from a brutal 26-year civil war between the predominately Buddhist Sinhalese majority and mostly Hindu Tamil minority. The long-running conflict killed more than 100,000 people before former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa launched a final assault on the group in 2009.

Since the war ended, Buddhist extremists have occasionally led attacks against Muslims in Sri Lanka. The most recent flare up was in March 2018 in Kandy and was widely viewed as fueled by Facebook posts that urged deadly violence against Muslims.

One possibility is that Sri Lanka’s authorities, long used to dealing with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam separatists, did not take seriously the idea that an Islamic extremist group was capable of coordinating such a well-planned and deadly attack, said Sameer Patil, director of the Centre for International Security at Mumbai’s Gateway House think-tank.

"Even though their activity was picked up and the community reported this, the Sri Lankan security agencies still go on their long experience with the bloody insurgency," Patil said. "Their mindset is still attuned to any future terrorist attack coming from Tamil Tiger extremists."
Riaz Haq said…
15 #Indian elite commandos, driver killed in #Maoist attack. Insurgents torched over 30 vehicles in Gadchiroli #Maharashtra. Indian forces have been fighting Maoists rebels for decades in several areas, in an insurgency that has killed tens of thousands

Mumbai: A suspected bomb attack by Maoist rebels killed 15 Indian elite commandos and their driver on Wednesday, police said, the latest incident of election-time violence in a decades-long insurgency.

"Maoists attacked a team of commandos travelling in a private vehicle to inspect an earlier attack. So far 16 men have died," an official at police headquarters in the western state of Maharashtra told AFP.

"More teams have been sent to site for rescue and combat operations," said the officer, who did not want to give his name.

India is holding elections and attacks by Maoist rebels, who are active in several states, often spike as the country goes to the polls.

A second police official put the death toll in the latest incident in the Gadchiroli region of Maharashtra at 15.

"Maoists torched over 30 vehicles in Gadchiroli today at 12.30pm (0700 GMT). In another blast, 15 security officers were killed and rescue operations are ongoing to ascertain the damage," Gadchiroli police official Prashant Dute told AFP.

Indian forces have been fighting Maoists rebels for decades in several areas, in an insurgency that has killed tens of thousands.

The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 Indian states but are most active in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand - and Maharashtra.

India's nationwide election began on April 11 and runs until May 19.

Last weekend rebels opened fire on Indian police, killing two constables and wounding a villager in the central state of Chhattisgarh, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported.

One constable and an assistant constable died at the scene and the villager, shot in the chest, was taken by local residents for treatment, PTI reported.

A roadside bomb attack on a political convoy in early April killed five people in Chhattisgarh, two days before the world's biggest election began.

Riaz Haq said…
#India to face revived #Naxal #Maoist #insurgency. #Chhattisgarh

On a usual day, Silger would have been pitch black, and eerily quiet. But voices suddenly pierce the night air. The teenagers have started singing. The song is new, and has no name. But the chorus has the words “O adivasi re...jaago re”(Awake, O Adivasi). They start singing the verse, “tere saamne tere bhai ko goli maara re...tere saamne tere ghar dwaar cheen liya re (they shot your brother in front of you, they stole your home in front of you).”

On May 12, residents of Silger began protests against a new camp of the Central Reserve Police Force. For four days, the number of protesters swelled. The villagers argued there was no permission for the camp, and that it would only bring more harassment to residents. The security agencies argued that it was the villagers who had asked for the camp, that it was key to driving away Maoists and bringing any form of development, and that the protests were being pushed by Maoist cadre.

Five days later, as the number of protesters kept rising and more villages joined in, there was sudden gunfire. Chhattisgarh Police said it was an exchange of fire with Maoists in the crowd, but villagers claimed the security forces unilaterally opened fire. Three people were brought dead to the hospital. A few days later, a fourth woman succumbed to her injuries as well.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s Indigenous people pay price of #Modi's #tiger conservation. Only 1% of over 100 million #Indian #Adivasis have been granted land rights despite gov't forest rights law of 2006, which aims to “undo the historical injustice”. #BJP via @AJEnglish

Officials were celebrating just hours away from several of India’s major tiger reserves when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in the southern city of Mysuru that the country’s tiger population has steadily grown to more than 3,000 since its flagship conservation programme began 50 years ago over concerns that the numbers of the big cats were dwindling.

“India is a country where protecting nature is part of our culture,” Modi said in his speech on Sunday. “This is why we have many unique achievements in wildlife conservation.”

Modi also launched the International Big Cats Alliance, which he said will focus on the protection and conservation of seven big cat species: the tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar and cheetah.

But Indigenous people, known as Adivasi in India, say wildlife conservation projects have displaced members of their community over the past half-century. Adivasi communities in Karnataka organised protests last month to highlight how their people, who have lived in forests for centuries, have been kept out of conservation efforts.

Project Tiger began in 1973 after a census of the big cats found India’s tigers were quickly going extinct through habitat loss, unregulated sport hunting, increased poaching and retaliatory killings by people. Lawmakers and officials tried to address these issues, but the conservation model centered around creating protected reserves where ecosystems can function undisturbed by people.

Several Indigenous groups say the conservation strategies, deeply influenced by American environmentalism, have meant uprooting numerous communities who had lived in the forests for millennia.

Members of several Adivasi groups set up the Nagarahole Adivasi Forest Rights Establishment Committee to protest against evictions from their ancestral lands and seek a voice in how the forests are managed.

“Nagarahole was one of the first forests to be brought under Project Tiger, and our parents and grandparents were probably among the first to be forced out of the forests in the name of conservation,” said JA Shivu, 27, who belongs to the Jenu Kuruba tribe. “We have lost all rights to visit our lands, temples or even collect honey from the forests. How can we continue living like this?”

The fewer than 40,000 Jenu Kuruba people are one of the 75 tribal groups whom the Indian government classifies as particularly vulnerable.

Jenu, which means honey in the southern Indian Kannada language, is the tribe’s primary source of income. Its members collect it from beehives in the forests to sell. Adivasi communities like the Jenu Kurubas are among the poorest in India.

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