Peace is a global ideal, but around the world people face violence, terrorism on a regular basis from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Iraq to Syria, and Palestine to Kashmir. Many people around the globe face the threat, uncertainty, and fear of terrorism every day. Newspaper headlines report a bombing, mass murder, quote official statements, and print pictures of the destruction. But the people who pick up their lives from the wreckage must continue to carry on long after the media stories are written and the camera lights have faded. As recently in Pakistan we have lost 65 young police recruits at Quetta and quickly forgotten about them. We can only imagine how the families must be feeling without presence of their loved ones.
What is it like to live with terrorism as a regular feature in one’s life, its effects on society and how we are combatting it at national and international level; is the topic of my talk today.
Terrorism has often been an effective tactic for the weaker side in a conflict. The strategy of terrorists is to commit acts of violence that draws the attention of the local population, the government, and the world at large. Terrorism could be defined as; “an unlawful use of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce and intimidate government or societies, often to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives.” Basic purpose of terrorists is to instill fear and cause panic among society to force their demand.
There could be many causes of terrorism. People choose terrorism when they are trying to right what they perceive to be a social or political wrong, when they have been deprived of their land or political rights. For instant, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombed English target in the 1980s to make the point that they felt their land was colonized by British imperialists. Or what we are seeing today, in Afghanistan or Kashmir under foreign occupation. Many terrorists in history sincerely claimed that they choose violence after long deliberation, because they felt they had no choice. But then freedom movements should not be confused with terrorism. This is the difficulty of defining terrorism. Perhaps the most commonly held belief today is that terrorism is caused by religion. Though it is not the main cause for terrorism however, religion does play a significant role in motivating people to undertake very hard course. Many terrorists make wrong interpretation of their religion.
Poverty and illiteracy amongst the people has been considered a reason of terrorism. Uneducated and poor people are easy to be misled to commit the crime because they have no higher ability of thinking/reasoning. Injustice is also a cause of terrorism. Social and political injustice also breeds terrorism and then comes the belief that violence or its threat will be antidote.
Effects of Terrorism on Society
Besides the injuries and deaths immediately brought about by terrorist attacks, victims also suffer from undo fear, mental disorder, anxiety and depression. Fear has adverse effects on children’s growth. Terrorism has economic impact, too, damage to infrastructures and business. Losses of breadwinners often ruin the families and their future. We can see that every terrorism incidence kills innocent people, destroys public and individual properties. The large amount of money has been used to repair the loss of infrastructures. The investors are afraid to do the business because they worry about safety. Government spending on security also increases. For example, apart from human suffering, lot of money has been wasted on rehabilitation of IDPs of Sawat and Waziristan. Government spends lot of money on security arrangements.
Global Efforts to Combat Terrorism
The UN General Assembly reviews the counter terrorism strategy every two years. In year 2015 UN proposed a very coherent strategy to combat terrorism. That is a demand from member states as follows;-
- Addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism
- Measures to prevent and combat terrorism
- Measures to build states’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism;
- Measures to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law for the fight against terrorism.
Counter Terrorism Efforts by Pakistan
National Action Plan – a comprehensive counter terrorism 20 point agenda – marked the beginning of a new and most effective effort to combat the militancy in Pakistan. The Plan came in view following the APS Peshawar attack in December 2014. The multidimensional plan proposed counter terrorism measures that were civil, intelligence-related and combative in nature. In the contemporary state of affairs, terrorism has been contained in Pakistan but it still continues to hurt.
Pakistan has achieved considerable success in combatting terrorism. Today, terrorists no longer hold a specific address. They are flushed out from FATA and Swat but they still have the ability to strike on our soft targets while sitting across the border. To eliminate terrorism in Pakistan is not an easy task as it has deep roots and few are connected and nourished from abroad. However, Government, too, is not following the comprehensive strategy it had chalked out earlier. It is still in reactionary mode. Efforts of Intelligence agencies are not coordinated. A counter national narrative to combat terrorism is still missing. I suggest following
Education: education is a primary solution to terrorism. The government should educate the people to understand the differences in culture, religion, belief, and human behaviors. All people should think of the peace, freedom and equality of all human beings, not just “their sect or ethnic group”
Understand about terrorists: the challenge is to find out the problem why a terrorist doesn’t feel guilty as a terrorist. It might be some injustice is done to him or his family. Hate breeds hatred only. They could be conquered by love. Their grievances’ must be addressed and ideologically countered. Terrorist of Balochistan are different from terrorists of KPK. They should be differentiated and accordingly dealt.
My last but not the least point is
Eliminate the root of terrorism: The way this world is fighting terrorism is funny because they are fighting the symptoms not the disease. Every country is killing terrorists, but still they are unable to eliminate all them. They kill some terrorists today, but soon they are replaced by others. Money may not be important for suicide bombers which are ‘Pawns’ in the chain of terrorism but it is the driving force for abettors and masters of terrorists. Therefore, Govt should try to choke this bloodline of terrorism. I dare to say that ‘money’ is ‘The root of terrorism’. Govt should check the flow of money in connection to terrorism. Foreign funding and black money earned through corruption is fueling terrorism. Terrorists can do nothing without money; so the government should find who support the terrorists, they are the killers of humanity.
 Held, Virginia. “Terrorism, rights, and political goals.” In Terrorism, pp. 65-79. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2012.
 Schmid, Alex. “Terrorism-the definitional problem.” Case W. Res. J. Int’l L. 36 (2008): 375.
 Schmid, Alex. “Terrorism-the definitional problem.” Case W. Res. J. Int’l L. 36 (2004): 375.
 Hali, Sultan M. “Economic Cost of Pakistan’s Participation in War on terror.” Criterion5, no. 3 (2011).
 Foot, Rosemary. “The United Nations, counter terrorism and human rights” Human Rights Quarterly 29, no. 2 (2007): 489-514.
 Rumi, Raza. Charting Pakistan’s Internal Security Policy. United States Institute of Peace, 2015.