Dr. Anil Athale,


Insurgency wars in the later half of the 20th century were a tool for the `weaker’ Communist bloc to change the global power balance. Open confrontation carried the risk of escalation and the Communist powers were at a disadvantage in the field of technologies of conventional weapons. The insurgents relied on guerrilla tactics that precluded the use of heavy weapons. Thus, the insurgents successfully managed to dictate the terms of engagements. Captain B. H. Liddle Hart in his foreword to the book on Mao’s thoughts on guerrilla war says,

“Campaigns of this kind, (revolutionary wars) are more likely to continue because they fit the condition of modern age, while at the same time well suited to take advantage of social discontent, racial ferment and nationalistic fervour” Guerrilla war is thus a low cost, low risk option for a weaker party to change the political map despite adverse power balance. In addition, protection of human rights has emerged as an issue of global concern making the task of countering insurgency even more difficult. Often the guerrillas can provoke a fire fight in crowded area and virtually paralyse the reaction capability of the security forces. This has added a new dimension to the potency of guerrilla warfare. What was new in Mao’s and Che Guevara’s theories was the degree of emphasis on politics. Insurgency wars could well be called `armed politics’ rather than the conventional way of treating it as politics by other means. Mao brought down politics from the level of policy to the level of tactics and morale of an individual soldier. This showed shrewd understanding of the circumstances under which the guerrillas operate.. Mao’s emphasis on indoctrination and ideology was a direct result of his understanding of insurgency as a protracted war. Human element is thus of crucial importance.    Wearing down the enemy and lowering his morale are concepts that are also common to all forms of warfare. But in revolutionary war the order gets reversed. In the classical concept, destruction of armed power leads to collapse of enemy’s morale and eventual victory, while in the Maoist conception, it is the loss of morale that leads to the defeat of enemy’s armed forces and victory. 

Asia Pacific Region.

Insurgency in Asia could only be understood against the backdrop of the current stage of political development. Development is commonly thought in economic terms alone. There are instances where economic development has been independent of political development. Examples such as oil rich states in the Middle East come to mind, as these countries though wealthy, are under developed politically. Political development is signified by the effectiveness of the government and ineffectiveness signifies underdevelopment as evidenced by violence and instability. Political institutions in a developed country mediate between competing groups and individuals and maintain peace.  This is the main function of these institutes. In a developed country, these institutions are characterised by adaptability, autonomy subordination, complexity and coherence in disunity.

 Large parts of Asia are predominantly agricultural civilisations, still in the process of industrialisation. But industrialisation brings in its wake Western values. This change can often generate alienation and loss of norms due to the conflict between the old indigenous and new value systems. Historically, this has been accompanied by violence.  In many countries societies in different regions are in different stages of modernisation. In addition, there are racial, linguistic and religious differences. All these factors made the resistance to modernisation and associated violence turn to secessionism. Spread of education, information and literacy generate additional pressures due to heightened awareness leading to heightened expectations

 A sociologist gives primacy to 'social order' in maintaining peace. There are administrative, legal and political perspectives on internal violence. But administration or law are methods or means to maintain peace, essentially there are only two major perspectives ie political and social. In the political view, it is the state that has  primacy.  Use of force to achieve state aims including keeping peace, is regarded as legitimate both internally and internationally. In case of social order maintained by society, force or violence, signifies the breakdown of order. Upheavals or revolutions are not normal but an abnormal social phenomenon. On the other hand, in political perspective, use of force or violence is an accepted norm. Much of ideological conflict and condemnation of use of force, internally, could  be attributed to this basic divergence between social and political perspectives.

 Democracy has been widely accepted as the ideal form of government. The political acts of the state, including use of force, have to be taking place in the democratic framework. At the apex, social order rests on consensus on values, goals, means and rules of the game. When such a society is also geographically and historically linked, a state is born. This consensus or willing consent of the majority of the ruled to accept rules of the game is not majoritarianism. The consensus and legitimacy is due to the 'values' that are universal, non-discriminatory and in tune with the prevailing international and philosophical norms. This adherence to norms and values has to be de-jure as well as de-facto. If the state is dependent merely on the majoritarianism and consensus,  then the minorities pose a perennial problem




There is indeed much truth in the fact that the West dominated world order has been unfair to the Asians, Africans and Latin Americans. The victims of injustice are not just Muslims but citizens of all third world countries. Sensible countries and societies therefore embarked on the path of ‘DEVELOPMENT’. Today the erstwhile third world countries like India, China, Malaysia et al have began to be counted in a world power balance that is shifting. With the exception of Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia, very few other Muslim majority countries took this path. Despite their fabulous oil wealth, the Arab countries have not  used it for their people’s welfare, industrialisation, education or health. All round development is the best anti- dote to Western domination and injustices and not terrorist violence.


There is the mistaken notion of ‘everything is fair in love and war.’ By that token even an acid attack due to a one sided love could be justified- it is not. Similarly, even within war, from ancient times there have been rules of the game, norms and ethics, written or unwritten, which are more or less universally observed. Once a terrorist act is clearly defined, the UN must enforce a universal adherence to mandatory and exemplary punishment to the supporting organisations, instigators, helpers and propagators of this METHOD of resistance.


Terrorism is global issue and needs global solution. In the 1980s when the world faced a rash of aircraft hijacking, a world consensus was built around the agreement that NO COUNTRY WOULD GIVE SHELTER TO THE HIJACKERS. As a result of this measure hijackings have been more or less controlled. Similarly the world needs to clearly define a terrorist acts- as distinct from actions of Guerrilla fighters  or militants. This may well entail some form of legitimisation of Guerrilla war on the lines of Geneva conventions dealing with wars. Thus acts against armed forces/police et al would have to be put in different category. While the world recognises this form of warfare, ALL ACTS AGAINST CIVILIAN AND NON COMBATANTS must be classed as Terrorism and all countries must agree to punish the perpetrators and put behind bars all members of such organisations without exception.


Counter terror operations have lost much of its popular support by terming it a WAR ON TERRORISM. Instead it should be treated as a counter-insurgency. The implication is that the force used must be adequate and discriminate and not maximum and indiscriminate. In addition the emphasis must be on isolating the terrorists from support base and NOT destruction of supporting people.


The obvious objection to this would be that it would mean a licence for  Guerrilla War. Which is true. But  mankind has lived with this form of warfare since ancient times. By separating Guerrilla war from terrorism, the world would certainly become safer.




For long Indian complaints on this score were ignored by the world at large by bestowing legitimacy to Pak proxy terror against India, be it in Punjab, Kashmir or elsewhere. But as the fires of terrorism fanned from Pakistan have reached other countries, this perception has changed. Essentially Pakistani terrorism is product of its socio-economic malaise. With population growth of 2.3% ( average fertility per woman has come down to 5.1 children per woman), lack of economic development, feudalism, illegitimate and rapacious govt.s and Western mollycoddling are some of the issues that cannot be rectified in the short term. The export of Jihadi terrorists is not their only export, Pakistan has also been exporting its children to serve as Camel jockeys to the Middle East for years. De-fanging Pakistan ought to be a priority over dealing with North Korea or Iran.







It is indeed a matter of great pride for India that its own Muslims have stayed away from the suicidal path of Jihadism. Indian Muslims have the capacity to be the role model for the Muslims all over the world. There are indeed icons ranging from the President to sport persons to artists, industrialists and scholars.


But within India as well the Muslim community must choose the path of say Pune, where the educational institutes created by the Inamdar family compete with the best! Muslim girls and boys have often topped the school exams! This is crucial as there have been attempts by rabble rousers from UP and Bihar to vitiate the atmosphere here as well. A year ago, in Goa, the local Muslims chased out a Maulavi from UP who had began to preach hate in peaceful Goa! In the end community opinion is the best check on extremism- whether  Hindu or Muslim.


It is indeed fortunate that the attackers in Ayodhya  failed or else consequences for peace in India would have been far grimmer than even London bombings. Muslims must ponder over this and ensure that such foreigners should be dealt with and given no support on the mistaken notion of religious solidarity.


I must end with two personal encounters that show the kind of pluralism that we all can be proud of. Some time ago while attending a wedding I was struck by the interesting sight of Muslim Fakirs seeking donations for a ‘Darga’ out side a Hindu marriage hall. Neither the Fakirs saw anything a miss in it nor did the Hindus who donated to good cause feel anything odd in it!


The other day while travelling from Mumbai to Pune by Deccan Queen, I encountered a ‘Fakir’ with his green bandana and burning incense, similarly seeking donations from all and giving blessings of Allah to all- very obviously Hindus!


The truth is that these Fakirs have grasped the true spirit of Islam that calls for brother hood and peace for all mankind. Unfortunately the so called monopolisers of Islam have distorted the message by adding ‘Islamic’ to all. So for them brotherhood is also confined to “Islamic Brotherhood” or the tribe of ‘believers’ is also similarly confined to only ‘Islamic Believers’ , both distortions of the message of Quran. Much of the current problems can be traced to this narrow definition and tunnel vision.


In this crisis faced by Islam world wide, Indian Muslims with their Sufi traditions and universalistic message of Islam could and ought to play the leading role. As  the world’s second largest concentration of Muslim community living in a pluralistic society they could be role model along with Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia. Ultimately only the triumph of these communities  offers prospect of peace and control of Jihadi terrorism.