The Tribal Dimension of Internal Security In South Asia

Major General (Retd.) G. D. Bakshi is a Senior Fellow at United Services Institution of India. He has earlier been a Research Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.
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  • Winter 2008

    The Sub-Continent's Failure to Integrate Tribal Populations

    India and China were major agricultural civilizations. It is not generally known that till the 16-17th century they were generating almost 80 percent of the global GDP. As per Alwyn Toffler's discourse the world's first revolution was the agricultural revolution. In the sub-continent it occurred in Mehrangarh around 7000 BC.

    The Tribal Age. The Copper age man was a nomad – a hunter gatherer who kept moving from place to place as the fruits/berries and game in an area declined. This was the tribal stage of Indian history. With the onset of the Agricultural revolution, fixed human settlements first appeared in the smaller river valleys (where the soil was lighter) e.g. the Chambal, Godavari, Sone rivers etc. These were still semi migrant tribal cultures. Their ecological foot print was very small. As Bronze and later Iron implements were produced, human civilization migrated to the alluvial flood plains of the major river valleys. The soil here was heavier and required domesticated draught animals (like Bulls, Buffaloes and in Europe – horses) to till the soil. Human settlements became much bigger and more permanent in nature. The nascent industries of brick making and pottery were established. Soon big villages evolved into flourishing cities which became the foci of capital accumulation. The cities later evolved into city states and subsequently loose empires.

    The Agricultural and Tribal Civilisation. Soon two parallel civilizations crystallized in the sub continent. The main agricultural civilizations were centered along the major river valleys of the Ganga, Yamuna, Indus and Saraswati. The other civilization was formed by the tribal cultures in the smaller river valleys of the Chambal, Godawari etc. This less progressive civilization was still fixated on the nomadic stage of the hunter gatherer. In the densely forested smaller river valleys, it had created semi-permanent mud and grass roofed hut settlements. In many cases it practiced jhoom (slash and burn) shifting form of primitive cultivation. The empires that arose in the agricultural civilization found it best to marginalize the tribal civilization. The agriculture economy was premised upon generating a surplus through land revenue. The tribal regions were unproductive – as they did not generate an economic surplus and communication/ infrastructural penetration was too costly and not considered worth the effort. As a result, the three successive empires that unified India – the Mauryan, the Mughal and the British, were content to marginalize the forest/nomadic tribal societies and left them in splendid isolation (as long as they did not raid the rich agricultural lands for loot and plunder). In the isolation of the forests, the tribal had little notion of scarcity and surplus and hence little motivation for plunder. However, tribal of the North West knew scarcity and hence had a major motivation to launch periodic raids to seek loot and plunder from adjoining agricultural areas. In view of the difficulty of terrain, military campaigns in such under developed regions were highly expensive and not cost effective. The Indian subcontinent therefore simply marginalized its tribal societies and was content to leave them in splendid isolation.

    Today, not just India but the entire subcontinent is confronted with the problem of integrating and ingesting its huge and long marginalized tribal societies. These tribal societies lend themselves to easy militarization as the subset of skills required for hunting and war fighting are very similar.

    The Imperatives of Industrialization. Today India is in the process of transiting from the Agricultural to the Industrial revolution. Its tribal inhabit some of its poorest and least developed regions. Paradoxically, these regions are richest in mineral deposits of Coal, Iron and Aluminum and many other industrial metals. 85 percent of Indian coal reserves are in Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand. These are also areas with huge reserves of Iron ore and Bauxite (Aluminum). As such these tribal can no longer be left in splendid isolation. They can no longer be confined to a time warp somewhere in 1000 BC. As infrastructural penetration takes place in these mineral rich tribal areas, the two cultures are bound to clash. The establishment of industrial townships, mining settlements and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) is bound to disrupt the tribal way of life. The exclusion of tribal from the forest by the Forests Act is already an axis of violent confrontation between the two stages of human civilization. Left Wing Extremism needs to be viewed in the prism of a clash between the agricultural and industrial civilization in India.

    Mining Skills to IED Skills. The subset of hunting skills lends tribal societies to easy militarization. Their use of ground, field craft and natural marksmanship skills make them ideal guerillas. In the Indian context these areas have been extensively mined. This has led to free availability of explosives like gelatin sticks and dynamite. Out of job LTTE/PLOTE guerillas had imparted the skills of making Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to the tribal insurgents of the Peoples War Group in the 1980s. It is this skill set which has turned the tribal into particularly lethal insurgents. From the year 2001 onwards they have steadily escalated their levels of violence and increased their areas of operation. Left Wing Extremism in India is very largely a manifestation of the clash of the nomadic/tribal civilization with the agricultural cum industrial civilization now shaping in India. In ideological terms, it is also translating into a clash between the urban and rural civilizations. The ideological lead may be provided by doctrinaire communists (Maoists) from urban India but the primal cause of its military effectiveness is the tribal nature of its cadre base. In terms of civilization – India is today paying the price for its failure to penetrate its tribal regions in terms of roads, infrastructure and effective administrative control. Lack of effective administration led to the ruthless exploitation of the tribal by venal money lenders and avaricious contractor mafias who have treated them in a sub human manner for decades. The tribal have now revolted and Left Wing Extremism has provided them a guiding politico–military ethos and ideology. It is their visa to a meaningful place in the 21st century. The central clash however is primal, the clash between the industrial and tribal civilizations. India cannot afford drastic genocidal solutions nor can it afford the spread of anarchy in its forested tribal tracts which are the epicenters of its mineral resources.

    Growth of Left Wing Extremism (LWE). In February 2008 the Indian Prime Minister had felt compelled to highlight LWE as the most significant threat to India's security. Starting from a miniscule agrarian revolt in 1967 (Naxalbari) the movement had snow balled into a serious security concern. What was remarkable was the tenacity and persistence of this ideology of rural rebellion that had defied repeated Government attempts to stamp it out. Despite the government's concerted efforts, the movement had continued to grow and escalate in the degree of violence and extent of spread. The Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) of Kanai Chatterjee and Peoples War Group (PWG) of Kondapally Seetaramiah had merged on 21 Sep 2004 to from the CPI (Maoist). The following table charts the spatial growth of LWE from 2001 – 2008 in the first decade of this century:-

    Levels of violence had escalated equally dramatically. On an average 150 security personnel were killed by Naxalites every year since 2004 (when the MCC & PWG merged to from CPI (M). Left Wing Extremism was centered in the difficult jungle terrain of the tribal areas in the very heartland of India. These contain over 80 percent of Indian tribal population. What needs to be highlighted is that only some 12 percent of the Indian tribal population in the North Eastern states has kept fairly large resources of the Indian Army tied down since 1956. The consequences of a revolt by 80 percent of the Indian tribal population in the Indian heart land therefore merit serious thought and analysis.

    Heart Land vs Rim Land Insurgency. A key characteristic of this LWE tribal insurgency is that as opposed to the earlier insurgencies in the North East and terrorist movements in Punjab and J&K, this did not occur in the Indian peripheral border areas but deep in the heartland of the sub continent. As such it was a heartland and not a rim land insurgency. It was focused in a region of very difficult jungle terrain where infrastructural and administrative penetration was minimal. Mining provided a large supply of explosives that made this insurgency highly lethal. Since it was a heartland and not a rim land insurgency, the Indian Army was most reluctant to be drawn into this. As a result, the Indian government has so far tackled this problem with a purely police and CPO (Central Police Organizations) based response. The CRPF has been designated as the main counter insurgency force and the government proposes to raise additional CRPF battalions and a whole host of IRPF battalions. The states had raised their Special Police Forces (on the model of the highly successful Greyhounds model of Andhra Pradesh). These have proved far more effective than the CRPF units but are hampered by problems of interstate coordination. Though CRPF had been designated as the lead CI Force it has major constraints due to its age profile, training and ethos. It is more suited for protective roles than offensive CI operations.

    Organisation. The CPI (Maoist) and other splinter LWE groups have a strength of about 10,000 armed cadres. It has some 45,000 over ground cadres. The CPI (Maoist) had formed a Central Military Commission (CMC) under its General Secretary Laxmana Rao alias Ganapathy. Under it were five Regional Bureaus which controlled their Zonal Military Commissions. The fighting cadres are formed by the Peoples Militias. What is of serious concern is the highly effective use of IEDs and the recent tendency to launch large scale attacks on police out posts and armouries in strengths ranging from 1000 to almost 5000 cadres. Such large target sizes have never been encountered before in J&K, Punjab or the North East. This is a dangerous development that calls for an immediate para-militarisation of the Indian response. The other disturbing feature is the local manufacture of weapons and crude but lethal rockets by the LWE. They have established librated zones with Janathana Sarkars (Peoples Government) and Jan Adalats (Peoples Courts) in portions of some 60 out of India's 602 districts. So far there is no tangible evidence of foreign support. Should that come about it could lead to a very serious escalation of the situation. The Naxalites are today talking in terms of a Compact Revolutionary Zone or a Red Corridor that stretches from Pashupati in Nepal to Tirupati in South India. Before we examine Left Wing extremism in detail – it would be essential to take a look at tribal rebellions in other parts of the Indian sub continent to place the problem in its larger historical and civilisation perspective.

    Pakistan's Tribal Revolt

    The Pakistani state had inherited its tribal policy from the erstwhile British rulers. The British had failed dismally to tame the wild tribal areas of Afghanistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan primarily due to the ruggedness of its terrain and the total absence of infrastructure. Economically the British empire in India was premised upon an extraction of agricultural surplus (in terms of land revenue). Since the tribal areas could not generate any economic surplus, it was economically unviable to try and penetrate these areas in infrastructural terms. That was the basis of the British policy of splendid isolation for these tribal. The Pakistani state was equally content to let them be. Its civilisation demarcation line was the Indus. Its core areas all lay East of the Indus river in Punjab and Karachi. As long as the tribal remained West of the Indus, the Pakistani state was content to let them be. It managed them loosely through the institution of the tribal Maliks and Jagirdars who were periodically bribed and coerced to keep the tribes in control.

    Arming the Tribal with Modern Weaponry and Jihad

    Ideology. The nation state of Pakistan however virtually signed its own death warrant by its extremely opportunistic and short sighted policy of arming the tribes with modern weaponry to the teeth, to pursue its short term goals and foreign policy objectives. It tried to exploit the tribes as non state actors to destabilize the Soviet backed regime in Kabul. With a CIA and Saudi funded heavy injection of over $ 10 billion worth of small arms and ammunition in its tribal society, it totally destabilized Afghanistan. Unfortunately in the bargain it also totally destabilized the nuclear armed Pakistani state itself and thereby generated great turbulence and instability in the international order. Not only had it injected modern military technology and small arms in its tribal regions, it has also injected an even more dangerous Jihad ideology that seeks the destruction of the nation state per se and its replacement with a global and transnational Ummah.

    What made the recipe for disaster complete was Gen Zia ul Haq's bid to impose the self same Jihad ideology as the national credo of the state of Pakistan. As long as this anti-nation state ideology was just required to spread destabilization and chaos – it worked very well for Pakistan and the CIA. Saudi Arabia provided its petrodollars to fuel this ideology of destabilization under the mistaken and warped notions of piety. The denouement came swiftly with 9/11 when the chickens came home to roost. It was the worst case of blow back in the history of covert operations. To colonize Afghanistan and make it its strategic backyard, Pakistan had created the tribal monstrosity of the Taliban and let it loose in that hapless country. When the Al Quaida – Taliban combine now targeted the continental USA itself, Pakistan was coerced to help in the destruction of the Taliban in 2001. Soon Pakistan was force marched to join the Global War on Terror (GWOT). The Taliban foolishly tried to fight a regular war against the Americans. Instead of fighting as a guerilla force, it tried to defend the cities and towns like a regular army. Short shift was made of its conventional pretensions. It was decimated in less than a month by the unrestrained application of air power. The denouement was short and swift and chastising. However, the Taliban learnt its military lessons and went back to guerilla warfare which suited the tribal genius.

    Tribal tradition/Folklore. Tribal culture is little understood (except by select anthropologists). The Pashtun tribes have two key traditions.

    Badl. This is the tradition of revenge or the blood feud. Family honour must be avenged by killing any one who harms a clansman. These cycles of vengeance can go on for decades and span generations.

    Mel Mastia. The tradition of Mel Mastia decrees that a fugitive who seeks shelter with a family must be protected at all costs. He must be safe guarded even if the whole family is wiped out in the process.

    The Taliban therefore was obliged to shelter the Al Qaeda in terms of the tribal tradition. The tribal of the NWFP and FATA are equally obliged now to shelter the Taliban. They simply had no option in the face of the sheer strength of the tribal lore and custom. This is a facet little understood by the Western strategists. Pakistan is now hoisted with its own petard. It has to fight the tribal and Jihadi Frankenstein it had let loose upon the globe.

    However, plain military logic soon impelled the Pakistan Army to safeguard its core areas demarcated by the line of the Indus. It was economic and cost effective to let the tribes retain their autonomy trans- Indus. The imperatives of the Global War on Terror are now forcing Pakistan to effect infrastructural and comprehensive administrative penetration of this region. That can only follow on the heels of military penetration and comprehensive control established initially through a major counter insurgency grid that enforces population and resources control in FATA, NWFP and Baluchistan. The present force to space ratios put in place are far too weak to affect such control. The economic costs of such penetration are also beyond the means of the Pakistani state.

    The Offensive Sweep. So far Pakistan relied on the imperial British tactic of mounting major offensive sweeps for pacifying or punishing the tribes. There were followed by peace treaties that bribed or coerced the tribal Maliks and Jagidars to keep the tribes under check. Such operations are highlighted by the British offensive seeps of 1929 when air power was used freely to punish the tribes. The Pakistani Army made such grand gestures to begin with. Its 11 and 12 Corps and part of its strike reserves (Army Reserve North) were utilized in a bid to overawe the tribal. Air power, attack helicopters and artillery were used as part of these gestures. The houses of locals harboring the militants were bulldozed. Extensive collateral damage was caused. A typical example was in the operations of the Peshawar based 11 Corps (then led by Lt Gen Mahsud Alam). He had ordered Pakistan's 14 Infantry Division to destroy the Spinkai town. This had led to extensive collateral damage and thousands of civilian were displaced by the fighting. Gen Mahsud was one of the Kargil Ghazis (he had commanded the infamous 80 Brigade which had been decimated in Kargil) Islamic hard liners in the Pakistan army pointed out to this specific operation as an example of how little Gen Pervez Mushrraff and his loyalists cared for their own people. Alarmed by the resentment these operations were generating, Gen Musharraf now switched to the time tested negotiations with the tribes. Pakistan's Pathan Generals like Lt Gen Aurakzai were responsible for this policy of negotiation and peace treaties which led the Taliban have a free run and reconsolidate its position. Unfortunately for Pakistan, Gen Zia's policy of destabilizing the authority of the traditional Maliks and Jagidars and putting the Mullahs in control had severely disrupted the traditional system of the control of tribal societies put in place by the British. The Mullahs were thoroughly
    ideological in the Jihad rhetoric and were now in control of the tribal societies. Their ideological sympathies lay entirely with the Taliban – so the repeated peace deals were reduced to a farce which gave a free run to the Taliban. Given the fact that the Taliban was its own creation, the Pakistani army clearly did not have its heart in these operations. It viewed them as a threat to its cohesion. However, the one instance where the Pakistani army displayed great sincerity and earnestness was in tackling the Uzbek and Xinjiang Muslim rebels who were targeting China. Specific operations were launched to hunt them down and win the approval of their Chinese mentors. These operations highlighted what the Pakistani army could do if it was sincere about prosecuting such campaigns.

    The Para Military Phase. The NWFP and FATA operations generated a major debate in the Pakistan Army between the Musharraf loyalists (pro American lobby) and Islamic hardliners. The hard liners felt that Americans GWOT was fast becoming a millstone around Pakistan's neck and would thoroughly alienate the army from the people. The water shed was the costly Lal Masjid operation of 10 Jul 2007, where some 105 civilians were killed. This led for the first time to anti army demonstrations. Modernism was clearly loosing the ideological battle to the atavistic forces of Jihadism in Pakistan. Securing comprehensive military and administrative control of the NWFP and FATA would require a force to space ratio of upwards of 300,000 to 500,000 troops deployed in a permanent grid to effect population and resources control. The Indus region was regarded by the Pakistani army strategists as a buffer zone between the Jihadis and the core areas of Pakistan. In fact, out of Pakistan army's total nine corps, seven were deployed in the core region of Pakistan constituted by Punjab and Sindh. Pakistan was seemingly content to let Jihadism play itself out as long as it remained confined to West of the Indus river. It is this largely Pashtun officer led, philosophical approach/advice that led Musharraf (and now the civilian government) to seek peace deals with the tribal.

    Eastern Diversion? In the past few months we have also seen a clever Pakistani military strategy to seek an Eastern diversion on the borders with India. The ISI has launched a terrorist offensive in the Indian economic core areas of Bangalore and Gujarat. The Pakistani Army in turn has ratcheted up a series of cease fire violations on the LC in J&K. The apparent strategy is to divert popular attention towards traditional adversary India, and create a situation where it can tell its American interlocutors, that it has no military resources left to prosecute the GWOT against the Taliban on its Western front.

    The Frontier Corps. Parallel with this peace process was the paramilitarization of the Counter Insurgency process in Pakistan. The largely tribal based Frontier Corps was given the task of Counter Insurgency operations in the FATA and NWFP so as to shield the largely Punjabi Army from the collective odium of the tribes. Unfortunately for Pakistan this strategy did not work well as the tribal soldiers of the Frontier Corps lack the will and stomach to fight their own tribal brethren. Neither does this modestly equipped force have the militarily ware withal to overawe the tribal and generate an asymmetry of capabilities. There have been innumerable instances of desertions, and large number of Frontier Corpsmen being taken prisoner or made hostages by the tribes. Pakistan today is therefore hoist with its own petard. It made the cardinal error of militarizing its tribal societies and injecting them with a rabidly anti-nation state Jihadi ideology. Today these tribal are wholly out of Pakistan's control. American prodding of Pakistan to seek comprehensive control of the tribal area could prove to be tragically beyond the Pakistani Army capabilities and innate inclinations. In the face of mounting US, European and ISAF pressure to assert control over its sovereign territory, Pakistan has a Hobson's choice. It may well seek an Eastern digression to get an excuse for not taking on the tribes. Perhaps that explains its recent cease fire violations and escalation of terrorist activities in India (especially the recent events in J&K). An honest commitment to discipline its tribes would require the committal of four to five Pakistani Corps for a one to two decades period. Pakistan is not likely to make this hugely unpopular choice. Its options are severely limited. The tragic policy mistakes it has made in the tribal areas in the past can come to haunt it in the years ahead. Pakistan tribal policies could well sound the tragic death knell/unraveling of that nation state itself. In injecting very large amounts of small arms into its own tribal society Pakistan has undermined the very basis of a modern nation state that rests upon the state's monopolization of violence. It is difficult to see how Pakistan can be saved from the tragic consequences of its own flawed and short sighted policies.

    The Nepal Maoist Insurgency

    The Maoist insurgency in Nepal is largely tribal in orientation and represents the revolt of the hill tribes against the authority of the Kathmandu valley based rule of the Sanskritised agricultural civilization in the fertile valleys of Nepal. As such the Maoist movement in Nepal has strong parallel with LWE in India. It is noteworthy that as far back as 2001, ten Maoists parties in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Including CPML-PW, MCC, RCCI (Maoist) and CPN (Maoist) got together to form CCOMPOSA to unify and coordinate the activities of the Maoist parties and organizations in South Asia. The key feature of the tribal insurgency in Nepal has been its huge popularity and its military success in fighting the Nepalese Army to a stand still. Hopefully, with the democratic elections, it has now been mainstreamed and is on its way to forming the legitimate government in Nepal. What impact will that have on the other tribal insurgencies in the subcontinent? Will it encourage them to mainstream, give up violence and join the democratic process? Though highly desirable in theory, we may not see it in practice. Most LWE groups may see the Maoist political success as emanating from their military success in fighting the Nepalese Army to a stand still. The reverse may equally be true and the Nepalese Army could equally claim that it has inflicted adequate military attrition on the Maoists to compel them to accept the cease fire and negotiate an entry into the democratic process. This may partially be true. At 93,000 strong the Nepalese Army was too small in size to decisively defeat the Maoists. At best it could secure urban centers and the political seat of governance in Kathmandu. Its operations were mostly ham-handed pursuit operations. It hardly conducted any night operations. What came to the Nepalese Armies rescue was the Nepali tribal rash temperament. The Nepali psyche is not amenable to guerilla style operations. The strong martial tradition impelled them into a penchant for large scale set piece attacks in huge numbers (1000 to 5000 and more) on Nepal Army posts. These frontal attacks led to very heavy casualties, especially in the middle tier military leadership of the Maoist PLA who personally led these 'Balaclava' charges. It is this attrition that was one of the factors that impelled them to negotiate and give up hopes of an all out military victory. The Indian-induced alliance of the Nepali political parties and the Maoists produced a grass root movement that dethroned the Nepali monarchy and its hopes of a military solution.

    The military lessons of the CI campaign in Nepal therefore need to be very closely studied. We see very great similarities in ideological approach and military methodology and tactics. The penchant for large scale attacks is common to both the Maoists of Nepal and LWE in India. The difference is that unfortunately the police forces and CPOs in India have just not been able to inflict the essential quantum of attrition till now. Apart from the Grey Hounds of Andhra Pradesh, most police forces have displayed an inability to undertake offensive CI operations without incurring heavy casualties. The worrying aspect is the exchange rate in the ongoing operations against the Naxalites. An equally worrisome factor is the increasing militarization, spread and lethality of the LWE groups and the failure of the Indian state in effecting effective infrastructural and administrative penetration of these areas and the provision of good governance which can win over the hearts and minds of the Indian tribal. Infrastructural and administrative penetration however cannot precede military pacification and usually follows in its wake. That calls for the establishment of an effective CI grid to effect population and resources control. Though the CRPF has been designated as the lead CI force, it has major inherent limitations (age structure, ethos, training and motivation) which do not inspire confidence in its ability to inflict the desired degree of attrition on the LWE in the time frame of the next two or three years. The Special Police Forces like the Grey Hounds have been far more successful and this model must be rapidly replicated in other states. That will however still leave the aspect of inter-state coordination of operations by a Unified Command largely unaddressed. The only immediate solution seems to be a para-militarization of the Counter Insurgency model by introduction of the Assam Rifles or Rashtriya Rifles. Either of these forces will have to augment by minimum 30-60 battalions for this additional task. That is why it is so instructive to take a very close look at the Maoist tribal insurgency of Nepal and the Nepalese Army experience in countering it.

    The Maoist Structure

    The Nepalese Maoists “Army” had 15,000 armed guerillas and 36,000 militia at its peak strength. These have about 14,000 political activities and some 30,000 over ground supporters. Almost 40 percent of its cadres were females. It had looted a major stock pile of weapons from the Nepalese Army and police. These included 11 x 81 mm Mortars, 05 Rocket launchers, 58 x 7.62 mm LMG, 05 x GPMGs and close to 1000 assorted rifles, including 7.62 and 5.56 mm Rifles. Besides this the Maoists had a weapon holding of 4600 weapons comprising some 2000 Lee Enfield Bolt Action Rifles, pistols, revolvers, 12 bore and muzzle loading rifles. Through ostensibly the Maoists Armed cadres were cantonised in seven camps and disarmed under UN supervision, there is a need to ensure that none of these weapons find their way to Indian LWE cadres on the basis of ideological affinity, or sympathy or via disgruntled Nepalis Maoist cadres. The key feature of the Maoist insurgency was its penchant for launching large scale, set piece attacks on Nepali Army posts which led to heavy casualties. It is this attrition that had a chastising effect and merits close study by the Indian security forces now dealing with the LWE tribal insurgency in India.

    The Chakma Insurgents in Bangladesh

    Bangladesh has long been engaged in quelling the Chakma tribal insurgency in the densely forested Chittagong Hill Tracts. Bangladeshi Army tactics have been fairly ham-handed and have included demographic inversion of the population ratio in the effected areas. The Buddhist faith of the Chakmas lent it the nature of a “virtual clash of civilizations”. By and large this insurgency has been tamed. However reports of rural tribal insurrections on the Indian pattern have been appearing in Bangladesh and are a cause of expressed concern for the security forces in that country. Such “sympathetic detonation” of left wing tribal insurrections could well take on a more intensified form in that country. It must be remembered that Bangladeshi Maoists outfits had signed on the CCOMPOSA to unify and coordinate the activities of Maoist parties and organizations in South Asia.


    The tribal insurrections in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh must therefore be seen on as part of a larger sub-continental phenomena arising from the civilisation clash between the newly industrializing societies in these countries with the archaic and hither to marginalized tribal cultures in South Asia. The agricultural civilizations of South Asia found it economically unviable to effect infrastructural and administrative penetration of these forested or arid hilly regions, which had no economic surplus to offer. As such they were content to merely marginalize the tribal societies and fence them off in the splendid isolation of their tribal tracts. A rapidly industrializing subcontinent, whose key mineral resources are located in their forested and hilly tracts, can no longer put off military pacification, disarming and integration of these tribal areas. This entails effective and rapid infrastructural and administrative penetration of these areas to ensure good governance and the integration of the tribal societies into the industrial and electronic civilization by education and capacity building of the tribal populations. Durga Mitra has developed an Indian variant of the Skocpol model to explain the causative factors of Indian insurgencies, including Naxalism. Skocpol argued that the probability of revolution against the state is determined by the degree of penetration of national territory by the state, the importance of socially mobilized groups and the degree of bureaucratization of the state administration and its Armed Forces. Mitra contends that the degree of inaccessibility of an area, strength of separate social identity of its population and amount of external unifying influence on it, determined the propensity of that area for insurgency. A policy of benign neglect and splendid isolation has led to the ruthless exploitation of these innocent tribal by venal and rapacious contractor mafias and moneylenders. This has caused tribal South Asia to revolt. In Pakistan – the injection of massive military hardware in the tribal areas and the spread of an anti-nation state ideology has created the outlines of a monumental tragedy that could well unravel the Pakistani nation state itself. Short sighted tactical agendas can breed serious long term disasters. The problem is that Pakistan is a nuclear weapons state and its unraveling could have serious repercussions for the region and the globe. It needs to de-weaponise and de- deologise its society in the interests of its own safety and continued corporate existence.

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