Terrorism & the Indo-Pakistani Conflict

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

One of the constant problems in the ongoing conflict with India and Pakistan is the use of terrorism to achieve goals. Learn about the strategies and counter-strategies of terrorist attacks in this lesson.

By Any Means Necessary

The very definition of a terrorist is one whose actions are primarily motivated to spread terror. When speaking of terrorism in the world today, we often think of the Islamic organizations like Al-Qaeda that attack both soldiers and civilians in the hopes of spreading their fundamentalist ideology across the globe.

However, not all terrorists are Muslim, nor are all their actions directly linked to a larger ideology. When studying terrorism in the relations between India and Pakistan, many of the perpetrators are themselves Islamic, and although their ideology is often directly linked to the power struggle between India and Pakistan, most often they are fighting for control of Kashmir, the disputed territory between the two nations.

Map of Kashmir, a province that both India and Pakistan claim to control

Pakistan and Modern Terrorism

Pakistan has long been a direct sponsor of Islamic terrorism throughout the Middle East. The American government published a watchlist of nations associated with terrorism in 1993, listing Pakistan as a major contributor.

Pakistan helped the Taliban, a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist group and military organization of next-door Afghanistan during the 1990s, providing equipment and support as they slowly defeated other warlords and came to rule much of the country, allowing the Taliban to in turn sponsor and harbor terrorists like Al-Qaeda.

While the September 11th attacks caused Pakistan to renounce their ties with the Taliban and help the United States to fight them, many in the international community suspect that Pakistan continues to support or arm the Taliban.

Taliban fighters were supported by Pakistan during the 1990s

Many terrorists financed or directed by Pakistan attack Indian soldiers in ongoing insurgencies across the border with India. Pakistan has outwardly voiced its support for insurgents, including the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, which the American government considers a terrorist organization. In addition to attacks on soldiers and police, these insurgents also target civilians, notoriously throwing acid at women who do not wear an Islamic veil.

Terrorism in Kashmir

The majority of terrorist attacks between India and Pakistan take place in the disputed territory of Kashmir. While this region experienced a brief period of peace when Pakistan became a greater ally to the War on Terrorism, violence has flared again as both powers seek to exert their authority over Kashmir.

In February of 2019 a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of police at Lethpora in Kashmir, killing the terrorist as well as 46 victims, making it the most deadly terrorist attack in Kashmir's history. The Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility.

This violence escalated in both nations drastically: India launched a series of air strikes at locations in Pakistan that they believed were centers for training and arming terrorists; Pakistan shot down at least one fighter jet. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has taken a hard stance on countering terrorism, going so far as to appear before the United Nations and urge world leaders to do more to stop terrorist attacks.

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