Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in South Asia

By Umukoro, Nathaniel | International Journal on World Peace, March 2016 | Go to article overview

Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in South Asia


Umukoro, Nathaniel, International Journal on World Peace


INSURGENCY AND COUNTERINSURGENCY IN SOUTH ASIA Moeed Yusuf, editor Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2014 315 pages

This book presents a comparative study of the conflict in South Asia. Although the region is characterized by noticeable historical and cultural similarities it is described as the least economically integrated in the world. The book is divided into four parts and nine chapters. The introduction and conclusion sections of the book make it easier for readers to understand the major focus and lessons from the various case studies.

Part one is on India and discusses the conflict in Kashmir and India's response to Kashmir's insurgency. Part two focuses on Pakistan and considers the Taliban insurgency in FATA and the response of the state to Pakistani Taliban onslaught. Part three, which focuses on Nepal, examines Nepal's Maoist insurgency and Nepal's response to the armed insurgency including its political settlement. Part four focuses on Sri Lanka and discusses many missed opportunities as a result of post-independence ethnic tensions and insurgency. All the chapters provide useful insights into the dynamics underpinning the progression of conflict in the four cases examined in the book. The contributors studying the causes of insurgency analyzed contexts and factors responsible for tensions that can potentially build up to violent insurgency.

The most recurring theme in all the chapters of the book was the absence of a holistic counterinsurgency approach by the states in question. All four states led with a security-centered strategy heavily focused on the use of force, intelligence-driven action plans, and heavy-handed measures in dealing with the local population. Authors of the Kashmir, Pakistani, and Nepalese case studies criticize this approach and emphasize the need for broader methods, including political and economic interventions.

The book also indicates that the dilemma for peacebuilders is that the periods without manifest violence are the least likely to get the needed attention of the future antagonists. As is evident from the cases discussed in the book, states are reluctant to acknowledge problems that merit compromise at a time when the marginalized population is not willing or able to threaten violence. In each of the four cases, it is clear that states felt no compulsion to compromise early on. In fact, complacency led to heavyhanded responses, which, in turn, further stimulated the insurgents and their support base. This is exactly why local and external peacebuilders are essential since they can create awareness of the potential repercussions of unyieldingness upon the principal actors long before sustained violence breaks out. …

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