The Israel-Hamas Conflict, India's Response to Terrorism, and Geopolitical Ramifications : Daily News Analysis

Date : 16/11/2023

Relevance: GS Paper 3 – Internal Security ( Also Relevant for GS Paper 2 – International Relations)

Keywords: Balakot air strikes, War on terror, NIA, NATGRID


The Israel-Hamas conflict has not only regional but also global implications, drawing parallels with India's historical responses to terrorism, notably the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Recent events, including an unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israel, have reignited discussions around the complexities of counter-terrorism strategies and the consequences of military actions. The echoes of India's past experiences, especially the aftermath of 26/11, play a significant role in shaping public opinion and policy decisions.

India's Trauma and Strategic Restraint:

The trauma of the Mumbai attacks in 2008, often referred to as 26/11, left an indelible mark on India's approach to counter-terrorism. The New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, highlighted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's "remarkable act of restraint" in refraining from an immediate military response against Pakistan. This act of strategic restraint faced criticism from some quarters, sparking debates on India's perceived inaction as an act of cowardice.

Balakot Air Strikes and the Importance of Strategy:

India's counter-terrorism strategy, exemplified by the Balakot air strikes in Pakistan in 2019 following the Pulwama terror attack, demonstrated a well-thought-out approach. The delicate balance between retaliation and avoiding escalating conflicts was evident, as India aimed to leverage international circumstances and alliances in its favor. The global focus on the 'war on terror' provided India with diplomatic support and economic stability, avoiding the pitfalls of a potential war.

India's Measures Against Terrorism:

Following the 26/11 terrorist attack, India has implemented several robust strategies to combat the threat of terrorism. In January 2009, the establishment of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) marked a significant step in addressing terrorist crimes. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act serves as the cornerstone of India's anti-terrorism legislation, providing a legal framework to counter and prevent unlawful activities.

To enhance intelligence gathering for security purposes, India has instituted the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID). This system plays a crucial role in consolidating information to preempt and respond effectively to potential security threats. Additionally, recognizing the need for swift responses to terrorist attacks, an operational hub for the National Security Guard has been created, ensuring a rapid and coordinated reaction to such incidents.

International Initiatives in Counter-Terrorism:

On the global front, numerous international initiatives aim to counter terrorism and promote collective security measures.

- The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) serves as a pivotal entity in coordinating international efforts to combat terrorism, fostering collaboration among member states to address this global menace.

- Within the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB) focuses on developing strategies and initiatives to prevent and counteract terrorism, emphasizing a multidimensional approach.

- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plays a crucial role in combating the financing of terrorism. Its initiatives and recommendations set international standards for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing efforts.

- India actively contributes to international counter-terrorism efforts through its Annual Resolution on Counter-Terror. This diplomatic initiative underscores India's commitment to collaborating with the global community in addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by terrorism.

Geopolitical Impact on Pakistan:

The aftermath of 26/11 marked a turning point for Pakistan's international standing. The country, under General Pervez Musharraf, capitalized on the post-9/11 scenario, receiving substantial U.S. military aid to combat Taliban and al Qaeda militants. However, this support declined as international scrutiny on Pakistan's role in supporting terrorism increased. The designation of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) as a terrorist organization by the United Nations further isolated Pakistan.

Economic Ramifications and Global Perception:

The economic fallout for Pakistan post-26/11 was substantial. Foreign Direct Investment plummeted, and the country's GDP growth struggled to recover to previous rates. The global narrative began to cast Pakistan as a potential hub for terrorism, impacting its relations with the international community. India's decision not to escalate into a full-blown war arguably contributed to this narrative, creating a path for its economic growth while Pakistan faced economic challenges.

The Balakot Paradigm:

While advocating for strategic restraint, the Balakot air strikes marked a crucial juncture. India, with improved defense capabilities and a robust economy, sent a clear signal to Pakistan that terrorism would not go unpunished. The strikes, carefully calibrated and diplomatically managed, showcased strength without resorting to chest-beating. India's shift from a defensive mindset was indicative of strong leadership and a calculated move to safeguard its interests.

Avoiding 'Boots on the Ground' in a Nuclear Landscape:

In the context of India and Pakistan being nuclear powers, the call for decisive actions akin to Israel's approach misses the nuanced reality. India's ability to punish Pakistan without invasion is crucial, considering the existential threat posed by nuclear capabilities. The emphasis on outsmarting rather than overt aggression becomes imperative, as demonstrated by India's strategic decisions in the face of heightened tensions.

Israel-Hamas Conflict and the Power of Perception:

The recent Israel-Hamas conflict underscores the importance of perception in geopolitical dynamics. The timing of the Hamas attack, coinciding with potential peace talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel, aimed to bring the Palestinian cause to the forefront. Israel's forceful response has shifted the narrative, amplifying support for the Palestinian cause globally. The delicate balance of wielding power while avoiding unintended consequences is crucial, as illustrated by India's historical choices.


In navigating the complex landscape of terrorism and geopolitical tensions, India's experiences offer valuable insights. The strategic restraint shown after 26/11, coupled with the precision of the Balakot air strikes, reflects a nuanced approach to counter-terrorism. The consequences of military actions extend beyond immediate conflicts, impacting economies, global perceptions, and regional stability. As the Israel-Hamas conflict unfolds, the importance of calibrated responses and understanding the power of perception remains paramount in shaping a nation's destiny on the global stage.

Probable Questions for UPSC mains Exam-

  1. Discuss India's post-26/11 counter-terrorism measures, emphasizing the role of institutions like the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act. How have these measures contributed to strengthening India's internal security? ( 10 marks, 150 words)
  2. Examine the geopolitical impact of the Balakot air strikes in 2019 on India-Pakistan relations, taking into account the international focus on the 'war on terror.' How has India's strategic approach influenced its global standing, especially in comparison to Pakistan, post these events? ( 15 marks, 250 words)

Source- The Hindu