September 26, 2006Security

Smash ULFA first

Some tails grow into lizards

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

The sequence should be familiar by now. The Indian Army nearly breaks ULFA’s back causing it to be amenable to talks to the Indian government. A ceasefire ensues, during which ULFA regroups. And then it goes back to its old murderous ways, breaks off negotiations, and the Army is called out to renew its counter-insurgency operations. Recent bombings in several places in Assam and Paresh Barua’s open threats to leading journalists are manifestations of the beginning (or the end) of another turn in this cycle, as the government attempts to continue negotiations even as an emboldened ULFA senses an opportunity to press its case using violence.

Let there be no mistake — counter-insurgency is a politico-military game and a military victory must be followed by a political consolidation. The trick lies in correctly estimating when the security situation has turned sufficiently in the state’s favour to attempt a political endgame. Do it too early, and the terrorists will return. Do it too late and popular disaffection worsens. [The Acorn]The UPA government’s decision to pursue negotiations with ULFA and the Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh was not informed by a security calculus. Instead it was the Congress party’s electoral arrangements that caused it to partner with political formations that were sympathetic to these terrorist outfits. The same goes for LTTE in Sri Lanka, where the UPA finds itself in alliance with pro-Tamil Tiger political parties.

It was the Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh that first demonstrated the sublime folly of the UPA government’s head-in-the-sand-hand-in-glove attitude towards violent political radicals. The LTTE followed next, by launching a full fledged war against the Sri Lankan government. And now, it is the ULFA (rather, now is when the Indian government acknowledged it). While there is no doubt that the endgame of anti-insurgency requires a degree of political accomodation, it is obvious that a responsible government should assess the state of play through astute political and security lenses. This one didn’t. And it is showing.

If you would like to share or comment on this, please discuss it on my GitHub Previous
After police, the courts!
BBC’s contempt for India’s justice system

© Copyright 2003-2024. Nitin Pai. All Rights Reserved.