India’s need to resurrect its counter-terrorism strategy

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (Feb 15) promised a strong response to the terrorist attack in Pulwama that killed 44 paramilitary personnel that his government blamed on Pakistan, ratcheting up tensions with the nuclear rival.

The attack on a military convoy in Jammu and Kashmir, where India has been battling an insurgency, was the worst in decades, that has provoked an outpouring of anger on social media and demands for retribution.

“We will give a befitting reply, our neighbour will not be allowed to de-stabilise us,”

PM Modi said with a response to attack safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan.

India befitting reply after the Uri terrorist attack in the form of the surgical strike was well articulated and rare.

Before 2008 terrorism was fought mainly by intelligence bureau with the help of state police and Central armed police force that be playing the role of intelligence agencies which coordinated the efforts of various state police forces. The operation investigations parts were looked after by the state police. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi special commando force, the National Security Guard was created to engage and neutralise the terrorist attacks in a specific situation with NSG commando trained in high-risk counter hijacking and counter-terrorist operations.

State-sponsored terrorism has always tried to destabilize the country and drained its power and resources. Although, India has successfully managed to tackle the menace at large, its wide presence in Jammu and Kashmir remains a mammoth of problems.

There are few countries who have successfully dealt with terrorism  through their counter-terrorism approach and India can absorb those measures in its strategy to eliminate its impact.


Israel is a small country with no strategic depth, surrounded by a hostile, regional mix of state and non-state adversaries. It has remained in an almost perpetual state of conflict since gaining statehood in 1948. To survive in the vast Arab land, Israel developed a powerful, high-technology military that repeatedly defeated its larger Arab neighbours in a series of major wars from 1948 to 1973.

In its conflict with Palestine over conflict areas of Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, Israel continue its fight against Hamas, the terrorist organisation active in Palestine by systematically using measured retaliation – and periodically, massive retaliation.

Although Israel’s use of retaliatory force as a method to change an adversary’s behaviour is compellence, not deterrence, Israel calls them “deterrence operations” due to their primary coercive objective of restoring deterrence.

Israel seeks to persuade the violent Hamas not to attack it by credibly threatening to retaliate. If you attack us, the thinking goes, we will respond in ways that will impose pain that exceeds any gain you can hope to achieve.

Israeli has set best example in Counter Terrorist activities in the world. Mossad has played a major role in the security of Israel by its aggressive policies towards terrorism.

Thus, the Israeli strategy is based on four components:

(1) Refusal to negotiate with terrorists,

(2) Retali­atory raids on the bases of terrorists,

(3) Strict security measures, and

(4) Covert violence against Palestinians (even innocent) connected with ter­rorists and sympathizers of Palestinians.

Thus, the Israeli model of combating terrorism is based on ‘counter-terror’ and ‘anti-terror’ rather than passive defensive measures.

Sri Lanka

As a country that suffered three decades of ruthless terrorism, there is a great deal that can be learnt from the Sri Lankan experience with non-state actors.

The 2009 defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the death of their supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran at the hands of the Sri Lankan Army can be traced to specific decisions made by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

At its height, the LTTE, the sole representative” of the violent struggle for an independent Tamil homeland known as “Eelam” to be created out of the north and east of the country, had more than 30,000 battle-hardened cadres and a large number of auxiliary forces with a sophisticated naval wing and a fast developing air wing. It effectively controlled large extents of the country’s territory and a considerable proportion of its coastline.

In a campaign that lasted just under 30 months, the Sri Lankan military had eliminated one of the world’s most effective terror organizations and the one that had perfected the use of suicide bombers. The new government decided not to continue with the narrowly focused military strategies that had failed its predecessors, but rather adopt a comprehensive whole-of-nation grand strategy to guide lower-level activities. The Sri Lankan civil war is counted as one of the frontiers of Human rights violation with a number of villagers, helping or covering LTTE were targeted and killed by the army.

In 2009, the Sri Lankan army announced that LTTE supreme leader Prabhakaran was killed in the campaign that had been waged against his organization by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was claimed, again by Sri Lankan army leaders that he had been killed “while trying to escape” an army platoon that had surrounded him and a half-dozen of his personal bodyguards.

What Kashmir now needs is strong retaliation and a free hand to the Indian army who can clearly target those who protect the terrorist or help transfer their message in the minds of young Kashmiri boys. The state needs a dedicated strategy to pull out poverty, imbibe education and revive tourism along with the army’s fight against the terrorist organisations.




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