Radicalization trends in South Asia

By Asif Haroon Raja
Geo-strategic Importance of South Asia
South Asia is house to around 1.5 billion people who represent one quarter of the world’s population. With high growth rate of population and scarcity of resources collectively creates opportunities for socio-political and economic instability resulting into conflicts.
This vast region is sandwiched between the great mountain chains and the Indian Ocean. In the north and northeast it is surrounded by mighty Himalayan mountain ranges, while in the north-west by the Karakorum, the Hindu Kush and Makran ranges. In the east it is enclosed by Purvanchal Hills and Bay of Bengal, while in the south it penetrates into the Indian Ocean and in the south-west by Arabian Sea.
Politically the entire South-Asian region has witnessed convulsive politics in the last seven decades. The causes are mainly religious, linguistic, castes, ethnic and economic disparities and uneven resource distribution. Another cause of political turbulence is mutual suspicion and mistrust and a lack of confidence in each other’s motives and intentions.
The disputes among South Asian countries have remained an area of unresolved and dangerous conflict involving external powers, arms proliferation and ethnic and religious hatred that go back to the evolution of India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, the countries that form South Asia.

Due to its strategic location and natural wealth, the region has acquired a very important position from a geostrategic point of view. While India taking advantage of her size, diplomatic clout, military power and economic strength, has all along striven to dominate South Asia, external powers such as Russia, USA and China in their quest for geo-strategic and geo-economic ambitions, seek to engage South Asian countries as well as with neighboring regions rich in energy resources.

The politics of violence and extremism in South Asia is mainly the result of faulty national policies and interference of external powers. The region’s vast potential is hostage to unresolved inter-state conflicts, mostly left behind by Britain and now being exploited by India which considers itself to be the successor of former colonial power which ruled and plundered the resources of this region for 200 years. USA which filled the power vacuum after 1947 has also been meddling into the affairs of South Asia in its quest for attainment of global ambitions.
Indian Factor
One reason behind South Asia’s backwardness and rise in extremist tendencies is the imperialist designs of India which has all along aspired to create mythical Akhand Bharat. While dealing with neighbors much smaller in size, resources and military strength, India is always in a mood to bully, to terrorise and to dictate terms.
The favorite means employed by India to make the defiant neighbor bend to its dictates are diplomatic pressure, economic blackmail, military coercion and application of military instrument. It also resorts to sabotage and subversion, abets insurgency, and uses Kautylian tactics such as propaganda war, disinformation, deception and false flag operations.
India has trained RAW in this game and over a period of time, it claims to have excelled in the art of disinformation campaign, espionage and subversion. There is no country in its neighborhood which has not been jolted by India through immoral methods, be it Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan and Tibet. Pakistan has suffered the most at its hand and continues to endure.
SAARC which could have played a big role in the economic development of South Asia is in limbo due to Indian unilateralism.
Frenetic modernization of Indian armed forces and India’s expansionist designs have compelled the South Asian states to spend sizeable part of budget in upgradation of defense capability.
Lackadaisical Role of Governments
Besides the Indian interventionism, the governments of South Asian states have also not been able to provide their people with the basic, minimum human security since these states became independent. Governments and ruling classes, instead of focusing on dealing with the issues of human survival and development, embarked upon perpetuating their power and influence. Subsequently, no South Asian country has been able to free itself from discriminatory and exploitative policies, which increased insecurity and led to the rising number of communal and terrorist outfits.
Despite the problems these outfits have created, no serious efforts were made by the governments or the civil society to curtail the rise in extremist trends at the initial stages. All of the regional states are facing the menace of extremism and terrorism in one or other form.
In most of the states, the governments have failed in providing good governance and solving social problems such as unemployment, social injustice, and poverty. The political culture in these states was unable to meet the imperatives of globalization.

In addition, instead of promoting unity and integration (both at national and regional levels) it led to ethnic solidarities and identification with religion and culture.
Role of Masterminds
Terrorism grows enormously when powerful nations do injustice with the developing nations by gobbling up their resources or keeping the weaker nations under their thumb through neo-colonization. Easiest way is to buy the loyalties of the ruling class of the third world, which readily toes the dictated line of the Master minds to stay in power and get out of sync with the public. Humanity has been trapped by Criminal Masterminds which is causing Global Poverty and Artificial Global Famine.
Poverty Exploited
Deliberately injected poverty in selected countries/regions pave the way for breeding grounds for the youth to deflect towards Global Terrorism and Global Crimes. Poverty and famine tend to make the poverty stricken people to do anything for little money for their survival. Masterminds can easily find them, twist them including their beliefs/faiths and forcefully use them according to their own desire.
In every targeted country after 9/11, proxies were hired to create disturbances and topple regimes. Hired mercenaries were from the deprived class. Purpose behind this gory drama on part of the Masterminds is to rob the wealth of the globalized world in stages.
Wars fought on fake narratives
Masterminds also fool their citizens, and create a scenario to prove that war is inevitable and war must be fought at all cost. Hidden motive behind all wars is to run their war related businesses and become richer than ever before.
Many wars in the past were based on lies. War mongers fooled their own citizens, e.g. Vietnam War, Gulf War on the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. EBOLA, SARS, AIDS & Chicken Pox could be biological weapons to wipeout people in other parts of the world as well as creating artificial famine.
Americans have lived under the broken umbrella of an empire controlled by 1% dirty rich that cares not to protect the overwhelming majority. They live under the auspices of a regime that spends half of common people hard earned tax dollars on phony wars, illegal foreign occupations and excessive militarism at home. Tens of thousands are lucky to afford the bare necessities of life.
Israel in Middle East and India in South Asia are the cat paws of imperialist USA. The jingoistic trio is committing worst human rights abuses and state terrorism.

Grave Threats Faced by South Asia
The South Asian region currently faces a grave security threat due to increasing extremism and terrorist activities. The politics of violence and extremist trends in South Asia can be linked to the contradictions arising as a consequence of faulty national policies.
The nature and political economy of the states have been instrumental in creating the current crisis. The South Asian states tend to operate in the interests of a coalition of classes and ethnic groups, thereby influencing development policies and the distribution of resources. The pace, content and dynamics of the uneven development patterns in South Asia are among the predominant causes of violence in the region.
Besides the failure of transition to modernity among these South Asian states, political culture has also led to ethnic solidarities and identification with religion and culture.
Interference from external powers and from neighboring and extra-regional elements (both governments and independent groups) has given a dangerous tilt to the existing volatile situation.
With the marked rise of extremism and increasing terrorist activities, particularly in the past decade, South Asia is among the regions in the world with the highest annual number of fatalities caused by terrorist violence. Ethnic, ideological and political conflicts pose a serious threat to stability and interstate relations.
Each state faces multiple concerns ranging from fundamentalists to ethno-political violence, which are consolidating along with the worsening socio-economic conditions.
The situation has become all the more dangerous and alarming in the wake of nuclearisation of two arch rivals India and Pakistan and unresolved Kashmir dispute which has become a nuclear flashpoint. Indo-US-Afghan-Israel nexus offensively poised against nuclear Pakistan fighting an internal war on terror and confronted with economic and political challenges finds itself in a dangerous situation but is determined to deal with any military adventure squarely.

War on terror initiated by USA to make the world safe and secure has intensified extremism and terrorism and today the world has become more unsafe and insecure.

Causation of Growth of Extremism

Terrorism and the rise of extremism has been occurring in South Asia for a variety of reasons, including perpetration by tyrannical and aggressive regimes and rebel groups, social injustice, ideological contradictions, religious beliefs and foreign interference. However, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, government policies and outside interference in all South Asian countries have been the primary factors responsible for the rise of extremism in the region. Terrorism and its political consequences have directly and visibly affected interstate relations in South Asia and have also led to destabilization in the region.
Main Causes. The main causes of Extremism are appended below:

Poor economic growth along with high population growth has led to the problems of mass unemployment, hunger and income inequality.

The economic inequalities and deprivation has created frustration and insecurity among the masses, leading to an increasing criminalization of society in which there are available targets for exploitation by the extremist elements in and outside the governments.

Along with the deteriorating economies of South Asia, governmental policies have accentuated the extremist trend in all these states.

Extra-regional actors are primarily responsible for the ongoing wave of terrorism and rising extremism.

The extremist trends have been boosted in the South Asian countries due to the interference by the neighboring and extra-regional countries in the internal affairs of the states.

The separatist and ethnic movements have also been supported from across the border, by the governments or any particular group, for its interests.

The Bangla national movement in 1971, which resulted in partition of Pakistan and formation of Bangladesh, could not have succeeded without physical military intervention of India aided by former Soviet Union.

Sri Lanka too is an old victim of Indian machinations and Tamil Tigers insurgency was Indian manufactured. Similarly the Maoists in Nepal are known to have collaboration and sponsorship from India.

The Kashmiri freedom movement in India has received only moral, political and diplomatic support from the Pakistan since its hands have been tied by new laws on terrorism. Indian forces are breaking all records of state terrorism and human rights to quell popular unarmed uprising seeking right of self-determination.

Pakistan has bagful of concrete evidence of India’s RAW deep-rooted involvement in Baluchistan, FATA and Karachi. Indian leaders have often bragged about it and are threatening Pakistan to break it into four pieces. Besides covert operations, India is resorting to water terrorism to make Pakistan dry.

Governed by mutual strategic interests, India is being fully supported by USA, Israel, the West and Afghanistan to destroy Pakistan.

Growth of Extremism in Pakistan

There were several factors and events that have led to extremism, sectarianism and terrorism in Pakistan. These factors include:

• Early demise of Quaid-e-Azam and murder of Liaqat Ali Khan resulted in leadership crisis, which persists to this day.

• Uneven development of provinces and growth of regionalism gave rise to fissiparous tendencies and strengthened centrifugal forces in smaller provinces.

• Insensitivity and callous attitude of the elites towards the deprived class bred resentment.

• Selective accountability and pro-rich judicial system added to the frustration of the have-nots.

• Corruption in all government, judicial and police departments eroded moral turpitude and scruples.

• Unresolved Kashmir dispute and State terrorism of India against Kashmiris heightened Jihadi tendencies.

• Western hatred towards Muslims and hounding and persecution of religious elements dubbed as terrorists intensified anti-US feelings.

• Promotion of western values and demeaning of Islam by liberals, sharpened secular-Islamist divide.

• Divisive education system provided unequal opportunities for social growth.

• The impact of regional events like Iranian revolution, Afghan Jihad and emergence of Taliban.

• Impact of Freedom Struggle in Kashmir and Palestine issue.

• Unresolved Kashmir dispute which has resulted in three major wars and several local conflicts and has led to nuclearization of South Asia.

• To counter Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, the United States supported and sponsored Pakistan and also the Jihadi groups during the period 1979-1989, which in post-1990 period became a threat for the security and stability of Pakistan.

• After Soviet withdrawal and diminishing of US interests in the region, Pakistan was left in a complete lurch for dealing with the menace of terrorism and extremism spread over the decade of its war against Soviets.

• With the 9/11 incident, Pakistan once again became a frontline state in the war against terrorism. The renewed interference by US in Pakistan, and Pakistan’s support against Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan once again aggravated the extremist and anti-US elements, having extensive implications on internal security situation.

• The US initiated war on terror in Afghanistan was purposely fomented in Pakistan with ulterior motives to destabilize, secularize, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan.

• Unstable Afghanistan was used as a base of operation to achieve the objectives against Pakistan through massive covert war and hybrid war.

Way Forward

War is not an option in which economy dies again and again, BUT Love is, which starts from forgiveness as mentioned in the Quraan, (Ref: Al_Quraan_041:035).
South Asian countries should assume the responsibility for internal reforms, avoid extremism and confrontation and ensure economic and social development, through ensuring respect for human right and paying special attention to human resource development programs.

The West particularly the United States should seek to resolve all political disputes that become breeding grounds of terrorism, reject equating Islam with terrorism and assist the Muslim world in poverty alleviation and socio-economic development.

Socio-economic problems and human security issues need to be accorded the highest priority by governments, as these are the main cause of frustration among the masses and particularly among the educated and unemployed youth, who become easy recruits for radical organizations which involve them in their terrorist activities. In addition to individual state efforts to deal with extremism, a concerted regional effort is also required as the problem has an additional external dimension to it.
There is no shortcut to eradicating regional problems since they are the result of a consistent and gradual failure of the state to deal with the issue of public security and grievances, and also the failure of society to curb tendencies of extremism and intolerance. Without formulating a comprehensive approach to deal with the issue of extremism at the state, society and regional level, the menace of radicalism cannot be eradicated.
There is dire need to address root causes of extremism and terrorism by providing an equitable social and economic order and just judicial system at the global level.
It is time for Global World to wake up and be careful from Mastermind Criminals/Terrorists and prevent humanity from those by joining Global Unity without any discrimination of Religion, Race, Sect, Gender, Color, Nationality, Rich, Poor, Young or Old, etc. Otherwise they could be next in line.
To Protect World from Criminals/Terrorists which is causing Global Poverty and Artificial Global Famine as well, we must understand Criminal Masterminds, and we must find the roots of all Crimes, starting from Mother Womb till the Grave.
It is not Wealth (Gold or Silver etc.) or Power which can save the Global World. Allah seized Qaroon, Pharaoh, and Hamaan and many more, for their crimes against humanity and nothing could save them, not even their wealth, power, or people, etc., (Ref: Al_Quraan_029:039). The World didn’t end there, but it re-developed after a Great Revolution.
One sure way of curbing extremist tendencies is China’s policy of peace and friendship and connectivity through One Belt One Road project of which CPEC is the fulcrum, for collective growth and development of the region.

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. Email: asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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