THE RISE AND FALL OF TERRORISM IN PAKISTAN

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Terrorists manipulate fear through the use of violence to achieve their objectives. An understanding of what motivates terrorists to employ mindless violence against civilian or non-combatant targets is essential for assessing the phenomenon. The current discussion of root causes often focuses on finding the causes of antagonism towards civilization in the mind of a fanatic terrorist at the individual level.

We are recalling all the scars of Pakistan at the eve of APS School attack in Peshawar. Pakistan has been butchered brutally by different extreme groups, corruption, social injustice, economic parity, lack of basic health and education facilities and many more

The debate about what motivates a terrorist, however, overlooks the factors that enable a terrorist to conduct terrorist activities. As argued by Walter Laqueur, even if better control can be achieved over the extremist motivation for terrorism, there will still be a few isolated individuals for whom the temptation to employ terrorism, if the opportunity remains, it will be hard to resist.

Over the 73 years of its independence, Pakistan has had three full-scale wars and a limited one all with India; three different constitutions; and four successful military coups, giving rise to intermittent military rule that has spanned more than half the life of Pakistan. No elected Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan has completed his or her full term of office, nor is any elected PM who held office prior to November 2002 both alive and resident in Pakistan today.

In Pakistan, a state where religion provides the only collective identity of its people, over and above the very existence of the state flirting with religion is an important political activity. In the earlier East–West context of the cold war, the religiosity of the nation’s people and the religious factor in its politics attracted international interest and support but paradoxically, it now seems as a basis for securing the country’s liberal allegiance. Islamism has subsequently become a source of concern and ultimate threat to the whole world: but Pakistan as a state has found and is still finding it hard to reconcile itself with this reality

Pakistan’s economy has grown by an impressive average annual rate of 6 per cent since 1950, but it remains heavily dependent on foreign aid, burdened by defense expenditure and excessively reliant on textiles. According to the official statistics, in financial year (FY) 2018-2019 the Government of Pakistan spent about 22% of its total expenditure on defense and about 29% on debt servicing, while its overall expenditure for internal development purposes was just 18% of the total.

The level of corruption in Pakistan is high. According to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report 2019, Pakistan ranks at 109, scoring better than only 14 other countries on the list. When surveyed in 2019, 40.4% of senior international business managers identified corruption as the major constraint on foreign investment in Pakistan, while 62.6% lacked confidence in Pakistan’s courts to uphold their property rights.

The primary law enforcing institution, the police, is perceived to be the most corrupt institution by Pakistanis. This institutional incapacity is linked with the prevalent poverty in Pakistan. 65.6% of the country’s population lives on less than $2 per day. The highest earning 20% of the population accounts for 42.5% of the total consumption while the poorest 20% accounts for just 8.8%.

A surge in terrorist incidents has been witnessed recently in Pakistan with militants attacking soft targets like seminary and tough ones including trained soldiers. The recent wave of terrorism has raised concern among the public on the one hand and made the Pakistani government and military more resolute to remove the remaining traces of militancy from the country on the other hand.

In November 2020, over 30 people including soldiers and seminary students were killed and more than 130 others got injured in separate terrorist attacks in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, southwestern Baluchistan and southern Sindh provinces. Pakistani experts and officials believe that there are multiple reasons behind the current string of terrorism, and the country has the capability to overcome the challenge through joint efforts of government, military and the public.

Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province used to be sanctuaries of terrorists. The Pakistani military has conducted several major operations to eradicate militants and their sleeper cells in the tribal areas, which bore fruit and militancy was contained in the country to a great extent, but the off and on continuation of small attacks on law enforcement agencies (LEAs) still continue. 90% of terrorism had been controlled by the extensive armed offensive of the LEAs and Pakistan is trying to eliminate the remaining 10 percent by intelligence-based operations and monitoring of the potential extremist elements.

Recently, the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) of Pakistan told the country’s Senate in a report that 3,990 terrorist incidents took place from January 2015 to November 2020, adding that 3,384 people including 1,457 personnel of the LEAs were killed and 8,436 others injured including 2,569 people from the LEAs. A report published by the Senate standing committee and NACTA.

Currently, Pakistan is striving to remove its name from the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body, which placed it on the list in 2018 for not meeting the criteria of restricting terror financing and money laundering.

In a meeting of FATF held in October, the organization showed satisfaction over the progress made by Pakistan that has successfully complied with 21 out of the 27 action items, but asked the country to promptly complete the remaining action items by February 2021.

The continued infiltration of terrorists into Pakistan from the country’s northwestern border and consequent regrouping of terrorist groups especially in tribal districts, and orchestrating of terrorist activities by hostile intelligence agencies of foreign countries through their own elements as well as proxies are other major reasons of the current surge in terrorist activities.

In the context of the Afghan peace process, the surge in terrorist activities may be used as a hedging tactic to pressurize Pakistan to continue nudging the Afghan Taliban to agree to a broad-based peace agreement instead of sidelining other stakeholders. The entire nation had demonstrated unprecedented unity in rejecting terrorists’ narrative, and today also we are one under same passion and sentiments.

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