EFFECT OF THE WEAK PAKISTAN ECONOMY ON CROSS-BORDER TERRORISM IN INDIA
Pakistan’s Policy of “Bleeding India by Thousand Cuts”
1. Pakistan was created in 1947 and the lack of any common national identity because of the fractured ethnic and religious nature of the Pakistani society along with the suspicion of India, led to the state adopting Islamic identity. This move along with the desire of the state to use Islamic militancy groups as a state tool against India and Afghanistan led to the rise of Islamic militancy in Pakistan. The anti-India sentiments are grossly embedded in the Pakistani mindset so much so that in 2014 survey by PEW foundation three quarters of respondents in Pakistan ranked India as the significant threat to security . Pakistan was comprehensively defeated by India in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war and the false superiority complex of Pakistani Army’s supremacy over India was demolished. This led to the emergence of the Zia doctrine of “Bleeding India by a Thousand Cuts”. The reason for emergence of this doctrine was that Pakistan felt it was unlikely to match the conventional military might of India in future as it was economically and numerically inferior to India. This doctrine along with the ready availability of the battle-hardened and foreign funded Mujahedeen after the Soviet rout in Afghanistan in 1989, led to the start of the cross-border terrorism activities by Pakistan in India. The Pakistani state has since then actively supported and funded many anti India terror outfits which operate freely from its territory. The reasons for continuing these terror activities have remained constant since then and are unlikely to change in the foreseen future.
2. With both Pakistan and India going nuclear, Pakistan has adopted an “asymmetric nuclear escalation posture”, which has deterred Indian conventional military power and thus enabled Pakistan’s aggressive strategy of bleeding India by a “thousand cuts” with little fear of significant retaliation. The nuclear dimension has further led to Pakistan getting emboldened to use terror as a part of its state-craft to keep India busy. This policy of Pakistan not only leads to loss of precious Indian lives but is also causing a financial drain on the Indian economy. For eg. As per an estimate, the terror attack on Pathankot airfield in India by cross-border terrorists, has led to India beefing up security of its airbases and naval installations. As per Indian media reports, the Armed Forces had asked for a budget of Rs 2000 crores for upgrading security infrastructure at different military installations.
Economy and Terrorism Relationship
3. The other requirements to continue this activity are funds and support of population. Amongst these funds is not a problem as the cross-border terror option is the cheapest option available to Pakistan to achieve its aim of ‘Bleeding India by thousand cuts’. The other part of population support in Pakistan, to support this activity is dependent on the radicalization of the general population. The failure of Pakistan economy will result in poverty, inequality, poor economic development, and unemployment. Incidentally these are the prime catalysts to breed radical mindsets for terrorism.
4. Education system in Pakistan. Pakistan has a mix of Sunni-Shia muslim population and hence is involved by constant pulls from the opposing Islamic nations in the ongoing geo-political rivalry from Iran and Saudi Arabia. These countries support and fund charities and Madrassas of different sects in furtherance of their hidden agendas. These funding have fueled the resurgence of Madrassas preaching extremism in young minds in Pakistan. As the government is unable to support social security needs of its growing population and radical groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are readily filling in gaps by means of charities and humanitarian work. The extensive work carried out by LeT during the devastating earthquake in 2015 is a testimony to this fact. One of the surveys carried out PEW Research Centre in 2015, clearly shows that the Pakistani society has less unfavourable views on Anti-India terror groups in comparison with other groups.
Fig 5: PEW Research Centre survey report on views of Pakistani population on Islamic extremist groups.
4. This will lead to increase in influence of the radical elements in the general population of Pakistan. The influence and followers of terror groups like Jiash, Lakshar-e-taiba, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc is already on a rise in Pakistan. So, there seems to be no shortage in supply of radicalized youth for furtherance of the cross-border terror policy of Pakistan. The economic collapse will further amplify these numbers. China has realized the importance of education in eradicating terrorism and has started a massive re-education program for its Muslim population in the restive Xinjiang region.
5. Growing Unemployment. The population of Pakistan is growing at a rate of 2 % per year. This has led to a massive part of this population to be under the age of 35 years. As per the world bank report of 2018, the unemployment rate in 2017 was 4.04% . The failure of Pakistan economy will lead to rising unemployment amongst the youth and make them disillusioned. These youth are easy targets for the flourishing radical groups in Pakistan, to consolidate their base. Already the followings of radical groups in Pakistan has seen a huge rise. The recent shutdown of Pakistan by radical political groups on account of the acquittal of a Christian woman charged with Blasphemy, is a testimony to the increased radicalization of the Pakistani society. The relationship between radicalization and unemployment can be gauged by many examples in the recent past like the rise of ISIS in battered Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, not far, the Bahawalpur area in southern Punjab region of Pakistan has the largest base of the anti-India terror group of Jaish and Lashkar. This area is poorest part of the Punjab province and has a massive terror infrastructure. The flow of funds from fundamentalists as led to an increase in number of Madrassas preaching radical Deobandi culture in this area. The lack of employment in this area has led to these issues.
6. Rise of Radical Political Outfits. The Pakistani mainstream political parties along with the military dictators have failed to alleviate poverty in Pakistan. The failure of Pakistan economy will make the general population get disillusioned and gravitate towards radical political entities. The rise of radical political elements in Pakistan started in earnest after the Lal Masjid hostage crisis in Karachi after some Chinese hostages were taken captive. Also mainstream political parties are increasing using radical rhetoric to win elections. The newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister on taking oath had announced of making Pakistan an Islamic welfare state.
7. Use of Terror as a Tool of Statecraft. The failure of Pakistan economy may result in civil wars in various parts of the country. The Pakistani leadership will come under intense pressure and the masses will rise against them. This may lead to the leadership taking hyper-nationalist routes to quell this unrest, like diversion of national attention. There are numerous cases like the Falklands crisis, wherein the leadership in nations across the globe have resorted to war-mongering to divert the masses from core internal issues. In case of Pakistan, the leadership is likely to resort to the anti-India rhetoric. Sensing the existing asymmetry in the conventional capability vis-à-vis India, Pakistan is likely to increase the cross-border terror activities in India. This being a low-cost option coupled with a ready availability of radical youth is likely to be the most viable option for the Pakistani state to keep its population together.
8. The intelligence agencies in Pakistan are using some part of the radical elements in the country for furtherance of their own objectives. Some radical elements ae being used for promoting cross border terrorism in India and Afghanistan for promoting their political goals. By doing so, they can effectively divert some part of radical elements away from their internal security concerns. Pakistan on one hand is carrying out anti-terror campaigns in the western part while allowing the anti-India terror group leaders like Maulana Masood to operate freely in its eastern towns of Lahore and Karachi. So, as the radical elements in the country increases, the Pakistani security establishment will push more of these in cross—border terror activities in India. This will help them in controlling the internal security scenario better.
9. Growing India-Pakistan Economic divide. The economy of India is likely to take off and India is likely to be the third largest economy in the world. While Pakistan economy is on a dangerous curve due to large debt and high fiscal deficit. The disparity in economies is likely to fuel further fear in the Pakistani minds about India. The Pakistani military has successfully created and sold the India phobia to its general population. This fear helps the military continue its dominating position in the Pakistani society and garner maximum share from the government coffers. With Indian economy rising, its military will continue building its conventional capability which in turn will make Pakistan spend more on its military. This is a vicious cycle with no visible solution as of now. With increased military sending and lesser government revenues due failing economy, the Pakistani government will in turn spend further less budget on social security needs of its population. This will galvanize the general population to look up to the charity organizations of the radical elements like JuD or LeT. So more the economic disparity increases between India and Pakistan, more will be radicalization of the Pakistani society. Further to divert the attention of the general population from its domestic issues, the all-powerful military will continue with its anti-India terror activities by supporting cross border terrorism in India. The success of these activities will give a perfect diversion for the military leadership to remain firmly in control of the state.