Dr Muhammad Khan
AS per the new database of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), Pakistan moved down to 7th position from its previous 5th position among the states most affected by terrorism. GTI is a comprehensive study, undertaken each year accounting for world-wide direct and indirect impact of terrorism. The impacts of terrorism are accounted for in term of world-wide human losses, injuries, property damage and the psychological after effects of terrorism. GTI-2020 covers study 99.6% global population. “Global Terrorism Database (GTD) collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) into a composite score in order to provide an ordinal ranking of nations on the negative impact of terrorism.” GTI-2020 analysed over 140,000 cases of terrorist incidents world-wide. As per GTI, there has been a decline in the human losses for the last five consecutive years; 2014-2019. “The total number of deaths fell by 15.5 per cent to 13,826. “The fall in deaths was mirrored by a reduction in the impact of terrorism, with 103 countries recording an improvement on their GTI score, compared to35 that recorded deterioration.” Despite being heavily impacted by the menace of terrorism, there have been huge relief for the people of Afghanistan. In 2019 only there were 1,654 less deaths in this war-torn country compared to 2018 (22.4 per cent decrease).
In last two decades Pakistan has been the worst hit country by the menace of terrorism. It suffered over 85000 human losses (deaths) besides thousands sustained serious injuries. Besides this, there have been serious impacts of the terrorism on the economy and society of the state in last two decades. As per the estimates of Government, Pakistan lost over 129 billion USDs in term of its economy. The industrial sector suffered huge losses and economic activities educed substantially during these long-years. In a hopeless situation where terrorism was rampant in Pakistan, the armed forces of Pakistan took decisive steps against the terrorism and defeated the huge network of terrorists spread over entire Pakistan. It was indeed a gigantic task, since there were many international and regional states, behind these terrorist groups, waging war against Pakistan. In the fight against terrorism, the resilient Pakistani nation stood behind its armed forces in the national fight against terrorism. The terrorist networks, operating in Pakistan were comprehensively entrenched and were being supported from all over; using Afghan soil as their harbouring site. The international forces present in Afghanistan (US and NATO) failed to achieve the stated objectives; defeating the Afghan Taliban and bringing peace in Afghanistan. Rather, they met the humiliating defeat in this campaign and finally, had to leave Afghanistan in despondency.
As per Global Terrorism Index, Pakistan recorded its lowest number of terror-related deaths in 2019 ever since the start of this menace in 2006. Comparing 2018, this is a 45 per cent decline from 543 in 2018 to 300 in 2019. It is worth mentioning that, Operation Zarb e Azb, initiated in 2014 was the decisive blow to terrorism and terrorist organization; Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). This cruel organization was using North Waziristan as its Headquarters. Its high command was directly connected to Indian spying network, RAW and Afghan intelligence agency, NDS. Besides, international spying networks were also supporting this terrorist organization and the Baloch sub-nationalist groups. All these external forces aimed to create a chaos and civil war like situation in Pakistan. These spying networks of regional and international forces had decided to make Pakistan a country like Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Salute to brave armed forces of Pakistan, especially Pak Army whose men and officers achieved that seemed impossible prior to 2014. The successive military operations in almost all agencies of former FATA and even in settled areas changed the entire scenario. Later, Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, was launched throughout in Pakistan in 2017 to further eliminate the threat of terrorism. It was indeed the consolidation phase of Operation Zarb-e-Azb-launched in 2014.
Though there has been a decline in the incidents of terrorism in Pakistan, yet the threats emanating from terrorism are not over. It is a temporary pause, since the security forces and intelligence network of Pakistan (ISI and MI) have effectively countered these terrorist financers, abettors and those who planned this form of warfare against Pakistan. Now, these regional and international forces are adopting new strategies to defame and undermine the state of Pakistan and its institutions of national security through hybrid warfare. This is an indirect warfare against Pakistan, involving the masses, political forces, media and vested groups through changing the perception and narratives. The new form of warfare is more difficult to be tackled and countered in physical domain, since it does not involve security forces alone, rather the target is a wider zone. The emerging threats from this warfare are broader in scope, deeper in impact, higher in planning and hazardous in magnitude. Pakistan needs a fresh approach to debate the scope and dynamics of new forms of terrorism emanating from the horrors of hybrid warfare, already imposed on it. The National Action Plan-2014 needs to be reviewed critically and revised in line with the emerging threats to the sovereignty of Pakistan, the social contract between state and masses and the institutions of national security.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.