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South Asia Impact

On September 11, 2001, terrorists launched multiple suicide strikes on the United States of America. Two hijacked aircraft crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre - the symbol of American economic might - in New York. Yet another aircraft crashed into the Army wing of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defense and the seat of US military power. In Pennsylvania, a fourth hijacked aircraft crashed about 8 miles east of Jennerstown. Several thousands of people have been killed in these unprecedented attacks. Initial investigations by US authorities have held Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect. Bin Laden is a fugitive, wanted in the US for earlier acts of terrorism, and is currently based in Afghanistan as a ‘guest’ of the ruling Taliban regime.

The United States has for long been a target of mindless acts of terror by Islamist fundamentalists. The manner of execution of the September 11-atacks has unnerved the United States and the entire world, and at once made many countries feel extremely vulnerable.

The attacks and the evolving international opinion against terrorism, thus, have had a profound impact on South Asia, too. One of the highly volatile regions of the world, and home to decades of terrorism and insurgency, South Asia has been witnessing spiraling terrorist violence in recent years. The region, in fact, precedes the United States in being a victim of Islamist terrorism, whose perpetrators are part of a global network. And it is the same network that has struck in the United States. Besides, these perpetrators are reported to be assisted by states such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, et. al.

One of the two most important countries in South Asia, Pakistan’s linkages with the various terrorist outfits, and its protégé the fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan, are primarily sustaining the growing Islamist extremism and trans-border terrorism in the region. A large number of Islamist terrorist outfits in the South Asian region are reportedly trained and armed in the various training camps located in Pakistan, Pakistan controlled Kashmir and Afghanistan. Consequent to the September 11 terrorist attacks and the increasing American determination to pursue a proactive counter terrorism policy, some of these training camps were reportedly either closed down or relocated. It cannot, however, be stated with any degree of certainty if these would not resurface.

Some of the terrorist outfits operating in the region have their origin in the collapsed state of Afghanisatan and the increasing internal disorder in Pakistan. Being part of a global network, the Taliban and the fundamentalist Islamist forces allied with it through ideology or inspiration have now ensured a continuous flow of moral and material support to various terrorist organizations. They have, thus, fuelled terrorist violence in different parts of the world including the Balkans, Central Asia, parts of China, Chechnya, Jammu and Kashmir and the southern and northeastern States of India.

Even as the United States of America constructs its response towards tracking down Osama bin Laden and destroying those who have been harbouring such terrorists and their networks, Pakistan, long reported as being one of the sponsors, has offered to be a member in the international coalition against terrorism being built by the US. The situation has, since September 11, been fluid. The contents on this page would regularly be updated to present the responses of the various actors in the South Asian region.





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