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Terrorism as an Instrument of Foreign Policy: a Case Study of India -terrorism Ties in Pakistan

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The study aimed at analysing that how terrorism has become an effective and diplomatic tool to achieve the foreign policy goals. Further it will be focusing on the India-terrorism ties inside Pakistan. This paper will be illustrating that how state sponsored terrorism can be stopped or to some what extent reduced. Primarily this paper will consider the questions that does state use terrorism as tool of its foreign policy goals and that what is the India’s connection to terrorism in Pakistan. However, this research paper ultimately makes some policy recommendations.

Today the biggest challenge faced by the world is terrorism and no place on this earth is safe or can be considered safe from the menace of terrorism. It comes in different forms and shape. Terrorism today is mostly characterised by airline hijacks, suicide bombing, maritime piracy or politically motivated violence that makes headline news. More importantly, Nation State use terrorism as an effective and diplomatic instrument of foreign policy in international politics. Till 1960’s, nations were used to implement their foreign policy through diplomacy or war. For nations, diplomacy which comprises negotiations is the soft option while war with its evils is the hard one. To that extent, inter-state relations depending on the compulsions and the constraints of nations are basically characterised either by a full-scale violence or non-violence. Though since 1970’s nation states have chosen terrorism, which amounts to a via media between the soft diplomatic options and the hard choice of war. As terrorism enables nations to indulge in a limited scale of violence with each other, it also allows them at the same time to keep their communication channels open through diplomatic discourse.

Basically, state policy projected beyond its borders, aimed to further national interest is known as foreign policy. Therefore, a government, considers matters related to foreign interests and adopts certain resolutions. These decisions then become the supervisory principles based on which nations determine their foreign policy aims and objectives. Foreign policy, to that extent is not an end but it is a means to an end, namely national interest. Ideally a nation’s foreign policy should manifest both national and international interests.[1]
Yet, realpolitik differs from idealism and would explain the rationale for terrorism in the sense that states incline to pursue their national interests entirely without any moral considerations about the security or insecurity of other nations. That is why terrorism is the best illustration of such foreign policy behaviour by nation states where governments promote only their narrow short-term interests to the exclusion of other considerations.

Nation states seek to apprehend their goals using numerous instrumentalities like propaganda, adherence to international law, membership of international organisations, economic aid, military assistance, diplomacy and war. These instruments of foreign policy over time have gained acceptance in the international order basically to become a political practise among nation states. With the changing political scenario of the world, the introduction of new technologies to advance the speed of telecommunication and travel, nations have taken to new instruments to implement their foreign policies.

Basically, these new instruments indicate the weaknesses in the existing foreign policy instrumentalities. Knowingly war was the oldest of all the instruments former to the theory of social contract. Afterwards, with the evolution of the nation state, diplomacy and negotiation came into practice. Likewise, other foreign policy instruments also evolved over time. So, when one instrument loses its effectiveness another one takes shape and undergoes a period of trial. Therefore, nation states create new ways to implement their foreign policies. Though, when inter-state relations are not so aggressive as to resort to open warfare; or the domestic and international political environment is not conductive to conventional war, then terrorism appears as the most feasible alternative course of action. Compared to war which is a high investment high-risk proposition terrorism is a low investment-low risk business.

In the start of 21st century, nation states and international organisations like the United Nations would find it appropriate to undertake self-examination on the post-Second World War political scenario. This period is basically marked and beginning of use of terror tactics by nation states towards the comprehension of their foreign policy goals. The contemporary history of global conflict witnessed the emergence of terrorism up till now another instrument of foreign policy. Since the Second World War, terrorism has grown so far to experience a change from politico-ideological in orientation to religion-driven. Basically, terrorism was widely used by super powers, the United States, the formerly Soviet Russia and China during the cold war era, as an instrument of their foreign policy. As the cold war era, represented by super power clash, has predicted well for the Western industrialised democracies, it has proved traumatic for the developing countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia. Purely because terrorism has already carved a niche in the body politic of these regions as some countries have employed terrorism to achieve their foreign policy goals.[2]

Today the problem arises as nation states on one hand adopt terrorism to peruse their narrow national interests and on the other, deny their participation in the same. Now-a-days terrorism has emerged as an undeclared instrument of foreign policy mainly because it is easily deniable too. It is because state-sponsored terrorism is practised secretly which enables nations to distance themselves from their illegal actions. Basically, nations find terrorism a appropriate tool which does not leave too many traces to clear cut evidence about its national origins.

Why do nations use terrorism as an instrument? The answer to this question is quite obvious from the nature of inter-state relations, which has basically three categories and these include relations with:

  • friendly nations.
  • hostile or belligerent nations,
  • nations which maintain diplomatic relations, but are hostile in character. With friendly nations, governments maintain normal diplomatic relationships.

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Terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy: a case study of India -terrorism ties in Pakistan. (2018, October 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 27, 2022, from
“Terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy: a case study of India -terrorism ties in Pakistan.” GradesFixer, 08 Oct. 2018,
Terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy: a case study of India -terrorism ties in Pakistan. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2022].
Terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy: a case study of India -terrorism ties in Pakistan [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 08 [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from:
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