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Day 58 – Q 1. Analyse the issue of cross border terrorism in India? Why do certain external state and non-state actors adopt terrorism as a non-conventional tool of warfare? Discuss.

1. Analyse the issue of cross border terrorism in India? Why do certain external state and non-state actors adopt terrorism as a non-conventional tool of warfare? Discuss.   

भारत में सीमा पार आतंकवाद के मुद्दे का विश्लेषण करें? कुछ बाहरी राज्य और गैर-राज्य अभिनेता आतंकवाद को युद्ध के गैर-पारंपरिक उपकरण के रूप में क्यों अपनाते हैं? चर्चा करें।


Conventional wars are not the norms or strategic choice for state on state conflicts due to huge cost and collateral damages. As a result, grey zone conflicts, which fall in duality of neither war nor peace, are becoming new arena of strategic competition between states. Cross border terrorism is a conflict that falls in the category of grey zone conflict. It is an undeclared war and considered to be highest form of strategy to bleed a nation for prolonged period by small efforts. It is an asymmetric war strategy employed by an adversary at a point in time when it cannot compete on a traditional battlefield, and adversary looks to where you are vulnerable. In this war the principle followed by an adversary is to avoid going at the enemy blow by blow, strength against strength since it is considered un-strategic. India has unresolved borders with two of its nuclear neighbours and surrounded by politically, economically and militarily unstable nations. The state and non-state actors have taken advantage of such a scenario to cause military and economic friction to weaken India internally.


Factors    giving impetus to cross border terrorism (Extra part –Not needed in this answer)

λ Geography assists in border transgression and infiltration of terrorists. Proximity of vulnerable areas to a rogue nation ensures continuous flow of terrorists and war like support to sustain momentum of conflict.

λ Identical ethnic demography gives support and sustenance to the terrorists during and post infiltration.

λ Political patronage to terror movement is provided by network of unarmed terrorists, over ground workers and separatists so that they can establish linkages and identity with the larger population of a community.

λ Poor and corrupt governance gives space for non-state actors to create a conducive environment on ground for making it a popular mass movement.

λ Subverted government institutions give impetus by their inactions and inability to protect vital public space.

λ Unsettled borders, competing strategic interests, unstable or ungoverned territories in the neighbouring countries and spill over effect of communal or religious conflict in these countries also adds to the vulnerability from cross border terrorism.

λ Illegal and mass displacement of population due to communal and economic reasons also adds to the vulnerability.

λ Children of war or conflict are easy cannon fodder and can be motivated to pursue the agenda of state and non-state actors.

λ Lack of stability and contiguous land border with hostile nations is one of the major causes of cross border terrorism.

λ Most important is the factor of availability of willing terror recruits. Ideal situation is when the terror recruits are available on both sides of the international borders. The case of J&K is an apt example where you have terror factories on both sides and they operate in tandem with each other.

λ The motivation for terrorists on both sides is different, foreign terrorists join the conflict due to religion, economic reasons, and identical ethnic affiliation. The domestic terrorists in addition to the factors attracting foreign terrorists is also due to political alienation, personal failure and an escape route for redemption in society and to fight for self-determination/ homeland.

λ Nexus between drug cartels, gun runners and terror organisations give a source of funding and sustenance.

The motivation for involvement of a foreign power to continue with the cross border terrorism or proxy war comes from the fact that fighting wars is uneconomical, but it is always a wise course of option to make the opponent waste as much of the resources as possible. Cross border terrorism does give an adversary deniability and no collateral damage as a blow back impact. Thus, it is a cheap war to achieve high dividends at low risk. Cross border terrorism is considered to be part of grey zone conflict; with the passage of time these conflicts are becoming sophisticated and complex. There is a possibility that cross border terrorism if not handled with efficiency and precision could go on to become a hybrid war.

Reasons why State adopt these methods

  1. The high cost of modern, conventional warfare make using non-state actors an attractive choice, financing terror groups is a small portion of states’ much larger defence budget, making terror proxies a convenient and viable option. 
  2. Use of terror organisations divorces the state from issues related to attribution, thereby ensuring that the state is not held politically or legally responsible.
  3. International pressure to  negotiate and sanctions in case of  refusal
  4. Internal pressure: The perception battle with its own citizen is lost if indulged in traditional warfare.

Non state actors adopting these methods:

1) Lack of manpower and money to engage in traditional warfare

2) Lack legitimacy   and popular support

3)  Source to weaken legitimately chosen government


The cross border terrorism is being handled by multiple agencies operating under different ministries, as a result the entire efforts of fighting cross border terrorism lacks synergy. Intelligence agencies and Central Armed Police Forces are operating under Ministry of Home Affairs, Army under Ministry of Defence and police under state government. All operations of critical nature must be handled under single operational command that has the resources and capability to influence the outcome of operations.

Best Answer: Another Being

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