Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

Kautilya has written that a state could be at risk from four types of threats viz. internal, external, externally-aided internal and internally-aided external. Out of them, the internal threats should be taken care of immediately, for internal troubles, like the fear of the lurking snake, are far more serious than external threats. Thus, the most dangerous enemy is the enemy within. However, external state and non-state actors have played an active role in creating internal security problems in India.

India is currently facing four major threats viz. Separatism in Jammu and Kashmir; Insurgency in North East India, Left Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the Hinterland.

Out of them, the first and the last are a direct manifestation of Pakistani influence, which includes the ISI and Pak military. In recent times, these two threats also getting sharper due to rise of ISIS in Middle East. The insurgents in north east get direct and indirect support from neighbours of India around its porous north east border. The left wing extremism has direct and indirect support from Nepal, China and other countries of South East Asia.

Historically, we have border disputes with Pakistan, China and Bangladesh. The problem with India is that it is located on the epicentre of terrorism and dealing with so many hostile neighbours, all at once. We have head to head wars with our neighbours in 1947-48, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999. The reasons for India’s security circles include:

  • Nuclear Capabilities of China and Pakistan
  • Military assertiveness and String of Pearls strategy of China
  • Pakistan’s military rule beneath the nose of the civilian government
  • Anti-India sentiments in Nepal and Bangladesh
  • Dubiousness of Sri Lanka in Tamil cause and fishermen issues
  • The anxiety of Bhutan to move closer to China
  • Illegal immigration from Bangladesh to create ethnic issues in North East

Thus, the entire subject matter can be divided into following:

  • Role of state and non state actors in Pakistan
  • Role of state and non-state actors in China
  • Role of state and non-state actors in Nepal
  • Role of actors in Bangladesh.

Very brief notes have been given below on the above headings.

State and Non-state Actors in Pakistan

There is no need to introduce ourselves on the perennial external covert and overt threat from Pakistan to India’s internal and external security apparatus. Since its birth, we have fought four wars in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1998 with this rogue country. Consequent to its military inability to confront with India in direct war, India is facing low intensity conflict in J&K abetted and sponsored by Pakistani military, in the North-East and through support to various fringe extremist groups within the country. We also face huge economic challenges due to the fake currency rackets.

Pakistan is one of India’s main worries both on external and internal security fronts. Due to its long-standing strategic partnership with China, it can stretch our armed forces capabilities in the Eastern sector also. The Chi-Pak nexus has given rise to external concerns such as modernization plans of Karakoram highway, development of Gwadar as a naval port and covert assistance in Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program. The various state and non-state actors in Pakistan include:

  • Inter-services Intelligence and Pak Military
  • Islamic terrorist groups like the Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Pakistani Taliban along with various other Jehadi Tanjims.

The covert activities of these apart from terrorist attacks in various parts of the country, include training and facilitation to armed rebels by ISI in various training camps in Pakistan. Apart from Kashmiri militants, ISI has in past and present trained the Sikh Separatists also. In recent times, as per union government, the ISI has been trying to revive the Sikh Militancy to carry out terrorist attacks in Punjab and other parts of the country.

State and Non-State Actors in China

Traditionally, China has provided financial aid, arms and sanctuaries to Naga, Mizo and Meitei extremist’s right since the British Era. The military encroachments and conflict of 1962, followed by defeat of India has psychologically contained our leaders thereafter. Since then, china has been shrewdly following a policy of strategic containment of India by regional alliances and arming India’s neighbours Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. As far as internal security is concerned, China’s interest lies in North East as well as the Left Wing Extremism. The Nagas were the first to approach Beijing, but China made best use of it. Other groups like MNF, ULFA, PLA, ATTF and NDFB followed. However, it is difficult to say that the linkage was unilateral. It was a relationship of convenience and an alliance of opportunism between China and Indian militant groups. Both Issac Swu and Muivah have been visiting the Chinese embassy officials in Geneva and there are reports of Chinese offer of basses in Yunan. The Maoist movement got ideological, moral, financial and intellectual backing from China.

State and Non-state actors in Nepal

India and Nepal share an open border with free exchange of people and currency across the borders. The CPN (Maoists) have become formidable political power (non-state actors so far, but state actors now) and this brings new implications for India’s internal security particularly in view of their known linkages with Indian Left Wing Extremists. Moreover, India’s hold in Nepal is no more remains the same as in past as the Maoists have been continually upping the ante against India, accusing India of poking its nose in internal Nepali affairs. Thus, Nepal can significantly add to India’s Maoist menace by joining hands with the rebels in the red corridors of India. Thus, the unfolding political and security scenario in Nepal would have to be closely monitored.

Role of various actors Bangladesh

Trans-border migration from Bangladesh is a major factor for the problems in Assam and other areas of the North East. The point that Bangladesh immigrants are a source of communal and ethnic tension was well proved by the Assam agitation and subsequent events.  There are estimated to be 15 to 18 million illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India, who have spread to all the North Eastern States with bulk of them being in Assam. In some states, these illegal immigrants have turned the majorities into minorities. The influx is likely to continue unless checked and those already identified are deported.  Their transgression into land and providing cheap labour is a cause of social and economic insecurity for local communities and a cause of tension and violence.  The problem is getting more and more complex. India needs to tighten its immigration controls and there is need for evolving an immigration policy and establishing a set up similar to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service on the lines that exist in USA.

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