End in sight

The obituary of what had turned out to be world’s most-lethal terror outfit, the Islamic State, is perhaps already written. The Islamist group has lost its last bastion and the fighters’ de facto capital Raqqa as per reports Tuesday, weeks after a near-total IS rout from Iraq. With American air raids, which started in 2014 followed by Russian offensives, Islamic State by now is near-extinct and its leaders have largely been exterminated.

There, however, is no end in sight for global terror, per se, as is evident from another report from Afghanistan’s southeastern city that stated that over 30 people were killed and over 200 maimed, apparently at the hands of a Pakistan-based terror outfit. With this, it would appear that the base of Islamic fundamentalists is now mainly centred on the Indian subcontinent.

This will have graver implications for India as well. True to what history has proven time and again, terrorist outfits cannot carry on and on for unending durations of time. A decade by itself will be a long run for such outfits, set as they are against military offensives from governments. Al Qaeda is still around, after its highly impactful attack on World Trade Centre towers in the US in 2001 and changing the course of modern history and spilling blood across continents in the years thereafter.

But, it is largely a spent force by now. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was around for more time, but bit the dust after a no-holds-barred offensive by the Sri Lankan army. Less is heard now of Boko Haram, another set of jihadists that spread terror in Africa since 2002. The previous century saw dreaded terror outfits such as Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Sinn Fein in action, only to split and disintegrate in course of time.

Ultras seem to have a problem. They probably cannot keep their adrenalin levels high for long durations. But, the last word might still not have been heard in respect of IS. If by chance it manages to change the style of fight from physical offensives to nuclear or chemical warfare, a possibility that cannot be ruled out, that would open a new dreaded chapter in history.

The Islamic State, that sprang up first in Iraq in the aftermath of the US invasion of 2003 and ouster and killing of popular dictator Saddam Hussein, took its support from the Sunni sect of the Moslems who found they were overpowered by the Shias with American connivance.

The civil unrest in neighbouring Syria, where several provinces were battling against the dictatorship of President Bashar al Assad, provided a window of opportunity for the IS to expand its territorial ambitions and spread its wings to Syria. Eventually, the outfit renamed itself as ISIS to bring word Syria also in its nomenclature.

The combined firepower of both the US and Syria’s ally Russia, which was backed on the ground by Assad’s forces and pro-government militia, was too much for the ISIS to feel comfortable anymore. With fund flow from supporters dwindling in the context of the fall in oil prices from the oil-rich kingdoms, there possibly is little for the ISIS now to hope for towards achieving its aim: of making the entire world Islamist.

It must be admitted that the vehemence of the US offensives in Iraq and Syria in recent months intensified following the takeover of hawkish Donald Trump as American President.

The fighting by outfits that profess to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan and Afghanistan continues somewhat unhindered, as is evident from the series of attacks being reported by terror outfits and Taliban militants.

The latest killings were reported even in the face of talks involving Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China in Oman Monday to find ways and means to end the 16-year-old insurgency.

Many killings in Afghanistan are seen to be the handiwork of the Haqqani terror outfit based out of Pakistan and allegedly drawing support from some of the government agencies to further Pakistan’s interests in the region.

Pakistan’s allegation is that India too has been using Afghan-based militia to unleash terror, by way of a counter, in Pakistan. The increasing role of China in finding a way of the Afghan imbroglio might not be good news for India, but it would appear that the Afghanistan government looks positively at the role being played by India there.

To sum up, an end to terror offensives in this subcontinent will be impossible as long as not only that Pakistan continues giving sanctuary to several of such outfits but also that India stops floundering and killing her own citizens by labelling them terrorists or separatists.

Although political parties have come and gone from New Delhi, no qualitative change is visible in handling issues concerning Kashmir, Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur and the rest of the North East. Simply holding on to AFSPA in these states proves lack of focus and imagination on the part of Indian administrators. Dreaming and hoping that some other nation will fulfill our needs is a waste of time.

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