India has long suffered violence from extremist attacks based on separatist and secessionist movements, as well as ideological disagreements. In particular, the territorial dispute over India-controlled Kashmir is believed to have fueled large-scale terrorist attacks, such as the bombings of a Mumbai commuter railway in July 2006 as well as a deadly explosion on an India-Pakistan train line in February 2007. Kashmir-related terrorist violence draws international concerns about its possible link in a chain of transnational Islamist militarism. The terrorist assault on Mumbai's hotel district on November 26, claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahadeen, appears to confirm a disturbing new turn of events domestically. Recently, a group calling itself the Indian mujahadeen joined the roster of terror forces, claiming responsibility for a series of blasts in November 2007 in the state of Uttar Pradesh and 2008 attacks in the Indian cities of New Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. Their relationship with the new Deccan Mujahadeen group remains unclear. India also faces another extremist threat: A Maoist insurgency by violent revolutionaries called "Naxalites" has emerged across a broad swathe of central India - nicknamed the "red corridor" - to claim a growing number of lives.
The frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan serves as the flash point for tensions between the two countries as Kabul grows increasingly critical of Islamabad's seeming inability to control cross-border raids by Islamic militants. The solution proposed by Pakistan last month to mine and fence the roughly 1,500-mile Durand line (VOA) did little to reassure Afghans, who have long disputed the boundary. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose criticism was echoed by Washington and the United Nations, said Islamabad should instead eliminate terrorist sanctuaries (BBC) within Pakistan rather than separate families who live in the border region. Pashtun tribal leaders on both sides of the boundary warn if Pakistan carries out the plan they will remove any barriers or mines (Pajhwok Afghan News).
Served as writer.
While Kashmir and al-Qaeda-linked terrorism garner front-page play around the world, India's own internal terrorism problem tends to be off the radar of most American news outlets—or, at best, warranting a postage-stamp-sized wire story (NYT) buried at the bottom of an inside page. Yet terrorism-related deaths in the contested territory of Jammu and Kashmir dropped threefold since 2002, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal report. Violence related to Maoist extremism in India, however, defies New Delhi’s counterterrorism efforts. In April 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the leftist insurgency “the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country.” A new Backgrounder on terrorism in India explores the Maoist insurgency.
Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise stop in Islamabad to deliver a stern warning (NYT) to President Pervez Musharraf that Washington may reduce aid to Islamabad if he does not take a more offensive approach toward terrorists that have allegedly sought refuge close to the Afghan border. President Bush’s new budget includes $300 million in military aid to Pakistan to support counterterrorism activities and stop cross border raids into Afghanistan. The U.S. Congress has threatened to cut the military funding (CSMonitor) if Islamabad does not take a more aggressive approach toward controlling militants within Pakistan. The new pressure marks a change in tone from just last year, when Bush referred to Musharraf as “my buddy.” After Cheney’s brief visit, Pakistan’s foreign office responded pointedly, saying Islamabad does not take orders (The News) on how it handles counterterrorism efforts.
Ambassador Dennis Kux, a senior policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Asia program and former Foreign Service South Asia specialist, discusses the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Under international pressure to control the Taliban and other extremists from making cross-border raids into Afghanistan, the government of President Pervez Musharraf recently proposed mining and fencing the border. Kux says the idea is not a viable solution and that the Pakistanis cannot stop “individuals going across what has long been an open border.” He also says that the Pakistani intelligence agency’s longtime links to militant groups as well as sympathy for the Taliban in tribal areas near the border serve as obstacles to stopping incursions into Afghanistan.
A suicide bomb targeting a Pakistani military school (BBC) has claimed at least forty-two lives in Dargai, a village in the North West Frontier Province and a stronghold of a banned pro-Taliban movement. The militant attack was the deadliest suffered by Pakistani armed forces since 2002, when they began efforts to control terrorist elements in the volatile, semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Pakistani-Afghan border. Federal Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao says the attack was likely retaliation (VOA) for last week’s bombing of a madrassa in nearby Bajaur. Although some Pakistanis speculate U.S. or NATO forces were behind the madrassa attack, President Pervez Musharraf continues to defend what he says was a Pakistani counterterrorism air strike (Dawn).
Pakistan’s remote Federally Administered Tribal Areas (the tribal lands) have been a training ground for insurgents and a focal point for terrorism fears, particularly since the 9/11 attacks. President Pervez Musharraf finds himself squeezed between U.S. demands to control militants in the tribal lands and opposition from his own army against fighting the region's predominant ethnic Pashtuns, who have strongly resisted Pakistani rule just as they fought British control during colonial times.
Meanwhile, tensions between Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and Musharraf grow. Karzai insists Pakistan increase security and stop incursions by Taliban insurgents into his country, even though the Afghan leader refuses to recognize the disputed common border, which divides tribes of the Pashtun ethnic group on either side of the frontier. As the tribal lands continue to serve as a training base for terrorists and the Taliban, deploying Pakistani troops into the region has harmed efforts to integrate the tribal areas into Pakistan. Bill Roggio, a U.S. veteran who has written from Iraq and Afghanistan, says the uncertainty over how to handle the tribal lands “makes the problems in Iraq look like a picnic.”
Co-authored by Carin Zissis and Jayshree Bajoria.
Escalating violence between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger separatist group threatens to end the shaky 2002 cease-fire and spark another round in a brutal civil war that has caused 65,000 deaths. S.P. Tamilselvan, a leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) called the army’s recent occupation of the formerly Tiger-dominated northeastern city of Sampur a violation of the truce, saying the Tamil populations are in “misery” and warned the Sinhala population, who make up three quarters of Sri Lanka’s 19 million people, that they “face the same fate in the future.” (The Hindu). The terrorist organization, which is known for recruiting child soldiers and pioneering the use of suicide bombings as a terror tactic, has proven a resilient foe for the Sri Lankan military over the course of more than two decades, as this new Backgrounder explains. But the Christian Science Monitor reports that the Tigers are weakened by a breakaway faction, waning support from the minority Tamil population, and the recent crackdown on LTTE operatives in the United States.
President George W. Bush, during a recent interview with the German ARD television network, said he "would like to end Guantanamo." But, he said, closing the facility depends on the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which will determine whether detainees should be subject to civil or military trials. The case arose in 2004 after an indicted detainee—a Yemeni national and former driver of Osama bin Laden—Salim Ahmed Hamdan, challenged the legality of the military tribunals trying him.
CFR Adjunct Fellow Noah Feldman, author of After Jihad and a law professor at New York University, discusses the legal issues at stake in the Hamdan decision, expected in late June. He says the case will decide whether military tribunals are constitutionally sufficient and warns that if the Supreme Court rules current trial procedures inadequate, it may be difficult to try many of the nearly 500 Guantanamo detainees because "much of the evidence—all of the evidence, in some cases—is gleaned from procedures that would not be admissible in ordinary courts."
Four years after U.S. officials began detaining "unlawful enemy combatants" at a camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, steady international calls to close the center have failed to budge Washington. The UN Committee Against Torture weighed in this week with a report on the issue. Opponents of the detention camp, where nearly 500 people are still held without formal charges, may have been hopeful after U.S. President George W. Bush recently told German television: "I very much would like to end Guantanamo; I very much would like to get people to a court." Bush said closing the camp depends on whether the Supreme Court decides that detainees will be tried in civilian courts or by military tribunals. That ruling is expected in June in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, discussed in this CFR Backgrounder.