Terrorism And State Sponsored Terrorism: A Case Study Of Kashmir

This article examines the concept of terrorism[1] and state sponsored terrorism[2]. How they contradict each other and share common grounds. It basically targets the security of state which creates instability and horrifies masses. It generally affects the locals that have no concern with their activities and pursued ideology. It aimed at conceptualizing it in theoretical and practical bases. It focuses on how the role of terror group is misinterpreted and how other groups are coming under this domain. The scholarly works of different scholars have been cited and compared in order to create an understanding of the concept mostly by considering data obtained using secondary sources. The findings show that the concept has evolved and modified after 9/11 incidents giving it a new status. Further, as per the practicality state sponsored terrorism greatly differs from main terrorism. State sponsored terrorism has been misused by state and non state actors.

Terrorism is a vast and varied phenomenon. We cannot define it in one dimension. Its application varies with situation. Harming of population in any way is termed as an act of terrorism. It is confusing if acts are committed by legitimate or illegitimate actors. Therefore, it is important to distinguish different violent means from the wider umbrella of terrorism. So, the interests that are achieved using this mode can be cited differently and misuse of the concept will be avoided.

An old concept with a modern definition is what we call as terrorism. Since, it has evolved over time and because of globalization[3] it is attaching multiple themes to it. According to CDI research analyst (Mark Burgess, 2003) the concepts root is some 2000 years ago. It is used to be one dimensional but now the leaves and branches giving it a multidimensional look. Some used to legitimize it even being an illegal act. It is against humanitarian law[4]. Therefore, there is a need to understand the proper concept of terrorism. It has no link with individual crimes if not targeted the large audience. Further, how massacre, genocide can come in this broad term. A clarification on conceptual ground is needed to form a foundational basis for understanding. It is mainly associated with far-right extremism.

 Terrorism a phenomenon commonly known as violent form of violence inflicted upon masses by a group for their means and gains. It is associated with the psychological aspects as this school of thought would in general or in specific defines the approaches employed and deployed. However, it can be termed differently as desired by the one who is describing that violence as how it has been perceived. Moreover, referring to this and based on interest approach there is no single definition of this concept, and no specific consensus can be drawn. It is directly linked to the measurement of terror-by-terror group and its analysis of the suffering on the victims. Even, after decades question still arises whether terrorism is legitimised in law or in legal terms or not? Who initiates this and what contributes to it? Do its practitioners are part of the organisation solely or any normal person can become its prey. Terrorism has multiple dimension and ideologies attached to it. This is the reason that it remains the central theme in different types of terrorism based on subjectivity. Further, the factorial representation or agents to promote terrorism are very much active since the end of bipolar world. The term terror is general and was coined during French revolution[5] against the act being committed. Now, as the world progress it begins to see a new shift and modified this broader concept. As noted, terrorism can be done by any group, state or non-state actors and can be legitimised or legalised in the name of law. When this sort of analysis starts by a state, and it perceived any threat and tries to respond it through its means and favourable interests and conditions against any other state is termed as state sponsored terrorism. One could argue that a state sponsor terrorism is solely a strategy that exists independent of any other violence and states are not accountable for their actions. It can be done by the state or may be used against any state based on the perpetrator. Now as it seems clear how state promotes or flourished the use of competent non state actors to fight back states enemy. So, ultimately it initiates a debate that whether we consider or take state sponsored terrorism as a new phenomenon or sub type of terrorism. It is indeed a modification of terrorism. The case of Kashmir is an evident case that while encountering violence from the parties like India and Pakistan the notion of terrorism acquires the shape of a new phenomenon and particularly during Modi regime it has depicted and displayed a new character of terrorism while legalising it through policies. One state freedom fighter becomes a terrorist for others and vice versa. So, it points out stark difference that leads to a revival of other phenomena boost and backed by the term terrorism. General terrorism and state sponsored terrorism are two different things in practical while theory may define it in the same perspective. As words and actions don’t support each other.

The phenomenon of terrorism is used by both leftist and rightist organization within and outside state. It is shaped and triggered by an ideology which later became the cause to harm people. The essential of terrorism includes violence, killing and massacre at large level. The ones who are utilizing this source are also normal people. So, the point that sympathy should be forwarded to them is a falsified notion. Proper functioning state of mind is ensured which is different from brain washing techniques. Based on the existing mindset of terrorist works which requires money for the operations will not be accomplished without financial support (Michael Freeman, 2011). This can be considered as one aspect of sponsorship[6] either from a legitimate or an illegitimate body, including states and non-state actors in the existing domain. It in turn is used to harm civilian population. So, looking at this because one may find out as per the official record that how this sponsorship is important and how money and financial activities can assist terrorist in achieving the said target. The series of 9/11 [7]attacks which horrifies the entire world forced us to think of its accomplishment in terms of financing.[8] For instance, the estimated costs of attacks on world trade Centre[9] was about $19,000 which makes up a huge amount that can be given for a specific task if sponsored or contributed. Putting aside the notion of financing, the other activities in accomplishing a terrorist attack includes that the terrorist require and acquire modern technology with updated software and a proper channel for communication[10]. So, a generalized view of terrorist is not simple, and it is manifolded. This is the reason their tracing and affiliation cannot be easily identified. Another very core element includes the legitimate cause which drives whole of this terrorists’ activities. When you are selling a branded thing free it will invite people. As they want to enjoy the perks and privileges. This ideology can in turn attract public and increase recruitment. It is a fancy business term but follows the same suit ideally. It ultimately leads to gain public support which is very important. Due to negative connotations one reason why, terrorist seek compliance from getting state sponsorship is because of funds a proper channel and support and in return state fulfills its own interests and have a control on their activity. From taking hold of resources like ISIS[11] to global affiliation with networks like AL QAEDA[12] they had had a purpose indeed. In this way state sponsored terrorism comes under terrorism.

Why terrorism emerges or flourished is one of the unaddressed questions that needs a logical answer and interpretation from the situation (Tore Bjorgo, 2005). It is like a disease that develops from time to time in mustering courage. It does indicate the problems, symptoms and out of that you must propose a solution but if not, timely action has been taken it will take the shape of violent episodes of violence. Further, as it attaches psychological and behavioral adaptation, so it is based on how one perceived and react to it. Moving further to define it in a more specified way it needs to identify its association with different phenomena’s that are dealing with violence. Terrorists as an ideal picture state them in any way will eventually turned down the effect. (Jitka Maleckova, 2005)

It is not just the economic dimension but the political sentiments or any other ideology driving factor can be a triggering mechanism for such acts. However, such activities and activists greatly vary in developed and developing states. (Sageman, 2004). The gap between first world countries and third world countries sparks a debate that is linked to revival of terrorism being originated from a particular society. The conditions may deteriorate in states that is facing humanitarian crisis. But the deprivation in terms of economy cannot be a single source for terrorist as their origin. (Kreuger and Maleckova, 2003). Like, a fine example of Osama bin laden. He has pursued an ideology that is not money driven. Further, a typology has been given by Schmid’s to make an outcome of different approaches to define terrorism. It is very important to know the starting point of a ladder that gives rise to a broader concept of worldwide terrorism. It is involved in political domain associating it with that of politicization of religion[13]. It must be separated from criminal approach that also harms local bodies. The international law which is described as the command of a sovereign also pointed the difference in individual liability for criminal acts and atrocities for spreading terrorism. It also includes socio cultural dynamics of a particular society. The religious perspective is most of the time is being misquoted that promote violence in any group then reaching a level of terrorism by killing and justifying it too with that statement. One of such assumptions is that of suicide bombing sin which they are trained in a such a way that this illegal act becomes a source for divine satisfaction extracting source from religion (Stein, 2003). Sometimes, a state can compelled a group to become terrorist by formulating such policies (Sarraj, 2003). For instance, the role of Modi regime and the dictation of RSS[14] in case of Kashmir can be easily seen as the practical application. As Durkheim[15] school on sociology describes different phenomena one of such is linked to terrorism and defines altruistic suicide[16]. Terrorism directly affects humanity as elaborated by Kofi Annan and is described as a process to spread your agenda by winning hearts and minds of people. It is giving rise to a dispute among masses, civilizations, and states. Not state sponsorship is the only cause of terrorism across the globe. The use of coercive measures is not the only way to harm people within and outside territorial jurisdiction. A concept that is not considered by the terrorists. When we study the psychological parameters of a terrorist why cannot we analyze victims from this point. Civilian casualties are a matter of grave concern for authorities in power. Terrorism basically is the slow destruction of the might of the country if it is state sponsored then ultimately it weakens the opponent state (S.K Shiva, 2001) it challenges the national security mainly as global concerns are expanding. The idea of terrorism is a planned task not an unintended one because of calculated data and visible outcomes (Walter,1990) (Shiva 2001) (Reich 1990)


Terrorism can be studied through the lens of realism. Realism has been accountable while studying states which are considered as the primary actors. Yes, states are the primary subjects, but it is having such essentials which make it the one. The population or in short, the individuals the local masses and their worth has been ignored. Looking for national interests only the corporate elites are benefitted. The state centric approach should be replaced with population centric one. Further, within a state there is lack of uniformity. It can be controlled with coercive measures just like it exists in anarchic international system. Not everyone in the state shows compliance with state policies so a deviation can be seen. What if any group challenges the sovereignty of state internally? It tries to de stabilize a state. Power maximization has always been perceived as a negative step against minorities. The alliance formation within realist society against threats can be seen and analyzed with the perspective of globalization. But the reemergence of other actors which are not considered as legitimate bodies known as non-state actors is affecting the realism’s essence as the only competitor in international world. The way it has failed to address the phenomenon of terrorism and other varying aspects. The point that only globalist tend to seek power is no more the reality. Other groups are now included in this domain. And the claim of innocence self-help is being rejected with the deployment of mercenary armies.

Further, terrorists and mercenaries have common ground to perform. Being a paid person, they accomplished foreign task pursuing their ideology. They work for money and are illegitimate bodies. Under the same concept, comes the practitioners of violence and perpetrators that have no faith and morality for humanity. They are referred as guerrillas, armed groups, freedom fighters, militias, rebels and non-state groups. All are accused of committing violence. Some set their targets, and some violates the laws for public. All these terms are contrasting and are misused. The reason is because of inter changeably used to refer to violence. All these phenomena have contributed to threaten the state peace and stability leading to security dilemma situation which state must face, therefore. Among this category, a widely used term is that of terror group which horrifies general public at large because of its disapproval at state official level. This group works and operate selectively this is the reason why every act is not terrorism.

Liberation and freedom of Kashmir is more a matter of ideology involving politics and religion and so it is a task that must be accomplished by state (Yossef Bodansky). Both the parties to a conflict are accused of state sponsored terrorism using different terminologies like jihadis, freedom fighters etc. even, the role of mercenaries cannot be ignored. These all are being used by state as tactics and strategies to adopt in order to achieve selective interests. The diverse culture in the region is somehow depended on and extracted from religious practices. Different scholars have contributed to study dimensions of terrorism involving multiple cause. It is same as if one element is missing the other causes attach to it drives it in the society. Therefore, different types of terrorism have been discussed earlier in the historical perspective. It also includes state sponsored terrorism as one of its types which is making use of the word as per your demands and interests. However, looking at the interpretation of state sponsored terrorism it is interest-based action policy which can be used within as well as outside the premises of state. It can be carried out using weapons or playing cards with policy makers. Any action and effort by state that is affecting state masses at large level in any way which may include physical, mental, or psychological harm in the form of violence. Different areas of Kashmir are facing militancy and state sponsored terrorism. It occurred in form of waves and this wave is still on going in Kashmir. As per the report from official sources concluded that almost 1807 freedom fighters have been sanctioned in Kashmir with their ultimate dependency. This figure shows that it may act as in favor or against each party. The 9/11 events have brought negative fame to Pakistan as the role of jihadis have been misinterpreted and misused at the same time (Murphy,2013) it further spread this notion at large. It highlighted political instability and socio-cultural dynamics which is to some extent is correct but not entirely the reasons that will be discussed. Moreover, the enemies tried to link it with civil military relations following coup. The same was responded in an official manner in the United Nations measures to eliminate international terrorism while listing state sponsored terrorist activities of India. There is direct clear demonstration of state sponsored terrorism that has increased since Modi regime came in power. The role of BJP government in traumatizing Muslims is visible to all. Sometimes, it is through direct military action and intervention and sometimes through coercive measures and policies like the abrogation of articles giving it a last try to the problem. Nonetheless it has also funded such groups that are anti Muslims and targets Pakistani. Along with that its effort to destabilize neighboring state Pakistan has been reported with proofs. For instances the case of Kul Bhushan Jadhav can be highlighted as a proxy and a way of promoting state sponsored terrorism. The major role is that of RSS. RSS is a militant organization which has radical approach towards minorities. It is dictating Modi majoritarian government and as a result increased violence can be seen.

As it is more related to society and people and so their opinion matters a lot. The time frame is being analyzed since when Modi regime came in power (2014-2019) as specifically during this time period Kashmir conflict went through major policy shifts that were considered as an act of state sponsored terrorism.

Terrorism is not a new phenomenon, but contemporary terrorism is a modified one with multiple dimensions. The 9/11 events have given it a new status. The state which is a main harm can vary from simple to complex methods. The policy harming initiative is the latest addition in the domain of terrorism. Many phenomena related to violence has been there since decades, but none was used to define terror of terrorists.

 Modi regime is being dictated by RSS for the cause of akhund Bharat. They have introduced new measures of harm as being inspired from Hitler’s ideology.

State sponsored terrorism perpetrators and paid mercenaries are working in similar way. A contrast can be seen in practical application and theory. Terrorists’ accountability is worldwide, and state sponsored terrorists are charged as per rule of law. Modes of harming is not restricted to just weapons policies can targets them too.

Terrorism is now an element of our society. It needs a solution. It can only be done if one would have enough knowledge to identify its roots and analyses it in proper direction. Sometimes, lack of direction can be a tool for directing its shift to state sponsored terrorism. State is now very much involved in promoting violence through state sponsored terrorists which is a different phenomenon. Though associated with the killings of people and can operate as an independent entity but are fully supported by state. One would argue that terrorists are also owned by their respective organizations, but they are banned, unofficial entities that are not the sovereign representative. When an official claim is being made it can drive an outcome which is more vulnerable. Looking at current dynamics of state sponsored terrorism operating in Indian soil it can be visualize from a separate angle thus giving it a status of new aspect and a tool in assisting government to achieve its targets ultimately making a rigid society.

[1] Terrorism is basically an act of violence with wide scale demonstration of terror. For details see, Walter Reich, ’Origins of terrorism psychologies, ideologies, theologies, state of mind’1990

[2] For details see, ’overview of state sponsored terrorism’’

[3] Globalization is a phenomenon where we are interacting with people and as a result, we see increased interconnectedness between and among states in form of trade, cultural exchange, investment etc. for details see, Ihekwoaba D. Onwudiwe, ’The globalization of terrorism’’ 2001

[4] Humanitarian law is a branch and subset of wider international law. It is aimed at protecting humans under the articles of UDHR. Humans are the primary subject of this law.

[5] It is also defined as revolution of 1789 that was seen as an era of unrest in France. For details see, French revolution 1787-1799

[6] Sponsorship refers to a sum of amount that is provided to any person or organization by a company for specific person. Sometimes, any individual can also sponsor such groups for interests.

[7] Also known as September 11 attacks. These attacks were carried by Islamic radicals and extremists as per the claim against united states. It caused heavily casualties of masses and injured in huge numbers.

[8] Here the term implies that how money helps terrorist in fulfilling the requirements of spreading terrorism across the globe.

[9] A plaza or a multipurpose building situated in New York city. This building was targeted during September 11 attacks. It casts a deadliest impact on American soil. It is involved in regulating trade.

[10] It is important in terms of practicality of operations. Well, equipped not only enhanced your skills but increases chances of execution of your interest in a better way.

[11] An offshoot of current AL QAEDA but now working independently in Syria and Iraq. The efforts were made by united states to counter its activities as a terrorist organization.

[12] A militant organization founded by Osama bin laden. They intervened in Afghanistan to counter soviet invasion.

[13] By this terminology it is making use of religion and misinterpretation in politics for personal gains.

[14] It is a group known as Sangh Parivar that is flourishing Hindutva ideology in India. They are against minorities particularly towards Muslims. They want to make a greater India as inspired from Hitler’s ideology. The concept is that of Akhund Bharat.

[15] Emile Durkheim is a French social scientist that is excelled in sociology. His methods revolve around sociological theories explanation.

[16] It is one type of suicide that is defined by Emile Durkheim. As the concept explains this in terms of group. It is scarifying your life for your associated group as positive gesture.

Misbah Abidin
Misbah Abidin
Student of bachelor at National Defence University Islamabad.