Classical terrorism has been defined, redefined, and left undefined by many scholars. Reaching a definitional frustration, some have even suggested the definition of terrorism to resemble the quest for the holy grail by King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, with enthusiasts embarking on a journey full of zeal, enthusiasm, energy, and self-(over)-confidence, to achieve where others failed. Unlike the scant accomplishments in laying hands on Holy Grail by only a handful of the Knights, more than a thousand definitions exist for Terrorism and no two contenders seem to agree on one. Not to mention the US Department of Defence and State Department, both having their definitions, which of course, are different than the many adopted by the other departments or the UNO. Resorting to a minimal functional utility, terrorism is organized use of violence (including all forms of direct, indirect, and structural violence), for political and/or financial ends, directed primarily against the non-combatants. Generally, the VNSAs (violent non-state- actors) from varying ideological, or political persuasions resort to such means. More technically, this is a conversion of violence asymmetry (generally occupied by the state) to symmetrical leaning, pitching two parties capable of inflicting violence against each other.
The latency of terrorism gains further empirical obscurity when it is state-sponsored. To avoid an all-out war states sponsoring terrorism, use proxies or the VNSAs to inflict harm on the other states. This form of terrorism entails, well-coordinated, and sophisticated destabilizing actions to destabilize financial or economic stability. This form of terrorism has made the waters murkier in connivance with the Grey Zone and Hybrid Warfare as the latest/5th Generation warfare (generally adopted to embroil the enemy in a war without using military means).
When the world is already fighting two pandemics Coronavirus and response-inanity, the addition of a third un neighborly gift wrapped death-omen is certainly cruel, and outright criminal
Unfortunately, Pakistan has been the victim of Hybrid Warfare for almost a dozen years. International actors, more specifically the Indian state-sponsored agents have been evidentially found involved in spreading violence against the non-combatants in Pakistan. Besides, blatant acts of terrorism, perpetuating direct violence, India has been harming Pakistani financial interests, using both overt and covert means. The covert means include mostly directed at an indirect long-term financial loss. The worst form of long-term loss for any country is the health of useful workforce – youth. The economic burden on the national exchequer is most pronounced due to health issues, and in the case of LMICs (Low-Middle income countries), it is due to incessant tobacco use.
The history of tobacco usage dates back many centuries, however, in a research published in the Journal of American Medical Association during 2014, the 20th Century was labeled as “The Cigarette Century”. The phenomenal growth in sales by the big tobacco industries surpassed all expectations, and smoking and smokeless tobacco use left billions addicted, leaving almost every country struggling to meet the resultant health cost. Depositing the, so very dear, tax revenues in the coffers of LMICs, grants a significant economic strangulation and coercion rights to the big tobacco industries. The ironic dilemma leaves the nations between the rock and the hard place, on one hand not to annoy the big tobacco industry too much through heavy taxation or tobacco-unfriendly policies, and meet the resultant health burden on the other. Resultantly, the economic health burden continues to increases disproportionally, as more than 80% out of the 1.1 Billion tobacco users (majority from the LMICs), continue to contract cancer, lungs, and raspatory diseases. Almost 300 million tobacco users, mostly from South Asia (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh), use smokeless tobacco products including Naswar, also known as snus or snuff, and a variety of smokeless tobacco products labeled as Chaalia or areca nut, Mawa, Mainpuri, betel quid or Paan and the most dangerous of all concoctions Gutka. Gutka and other betel-quid products are not chewed; rather left in the mouth or applied to the oral mucosa by longer periods. Tobacco in itself, has more than 7000 scientifically proven chemicals in it, out of which scores are known carcinogens. Gutka and other smokeless tobacco products are the sole cause of mouth cancer. Long exposure of the gum tissue to the harmful chemicals initiates a decoloring process both for the teeth and the inner mouth, ultimately leading to cancer. A report submitted to the Sindh High Court suggested that out of 300 daily patients, an average of 70 are mouth cancer patients – shockingly all attributable to Gutka.
Predictably, like many other exported problems, the origins of Gutka can be traced back to India, where similar products have been in use for many decades. Realizing the health issues related to Gutka, Indian states have been banning the use of Gutka since 2012. However, its exports to Pakistan not only continued but the total number of Gutka users in Pakistan surpassed its malevolent neighbor – India. Over the past almost one-decade, Indian Gutka worth millions has been confiscated by the law enforcement agencies. Making the most ingenious use of the opportunities provided by the Coronavirus, Gutka was smuggled from Afghanistan and Iran through the porous border to Pakistan. The consignment was caught at the Sindh-Baluchistan junction town of Hub. Three men were arrested with a large shipment of Gutka, being transported in an ambulance, impersonating the COVID-19 patients’ transportation. In the most revealing confession, they exposed the entire supply chain- going back to its country of origin.
When the world is already fighting two pandemicsCoronavirus and response-inanity, the addition of a third unneighborly gift wrapped death-omen is certainly cruel, and outrightcriminal. The Geneva Convention stipulates certain rules of war, obliging belligerents’ adherence, apparently not applicable to this latest facet of non-kinetic, state-sponsored “Gutka Terrorism”. Relatedly, ever since the rise of BJP to power, Indians have been obsessed with the coinage of racist derogation and anti-Muslimrhetoric. The popularity of anti-Muslim slogans such as Love Jihad, Corona Jihad, and labeling of Indian Muslims as Cockroaches, referring to them as Pakistanis and synonymizing Pakistani with terrorism (not to mention the latest saga of Spy Pigeons) are the new normal in India. In cohabitation of such racist and hostile environment unleashing Gutka Terror against its neighbor by India is reprehensible, criminal, needs to stop and punished.
Author: Syed Ali Wasif Naqvi is a Research Associate at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed by the writer are his own and do not necessarily reflect SDPI’s official stance”
This article was originally published at: https://dailytimes.com.pk/621295/the-indian-gutka-terror/
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.