Terrorism in Pakistan has become a major and highly destructive phenomenon in recent years. The annual death toll from terrorist attacks has risen from 164 in 2003 to 3318 in 2009, with a total of 35,000 Pakistanis killed as of 2010. According to the government of Pakistan, the direct and indirect economic costs of terrorism from 2000-2010 total $68 billion. President Asif Ali Zardari, along with former President ex-Pakistan Army head Pervez Musharraf, have admitted that terrorist outfits were "deliberately created and nurtured" by past governments "as a policy to achieve some short-term tactical objectives". The trend began with Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's controversial "Islamization" policies of the 1980s, under which conflicts were started against non-Muslim countries. Zia's tenure as president saw Pakistan's involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War, which led to a greater influx of ideologically driven Afghan Arabs to the tribal areas and increased availability of guns such as the AK-47 and drugs from the Golden Crescent. The state and its Inter-Services Intelligence, in alliance with the CIA, encouraged the "mujahideen" to fight a proxy war against the Soviet Union. Most of the mujahideen were never disarmed after the war and some of these groups were later activated at the behest of the state in the form of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and others like the Taliban who were all encouraged to achieve Pakistan's agenda in the Kashmir conflict and Afghanistan respectively. The same groups are now taking on the state itself, making the biggest threat to it and the citizens of Pakistan through the politically motivated killing of civilians and police officials, by what Pakistan calls misguided holy warriors (mujahideen) and the rest of the world calls terrorists.
From the summer of 2007 until late 2009, more than 1,500 people were killed in suicide and other attacks on civilians for reasons attributed to a number of causes – sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims; easy availability of guns and explosives; the existence of a "Kalishnikov culture"; an influx of ideologically driven Afghan Arabs based in or near Pakistan, who originate from any country with a Muslim population and the subsequent war against the Afghan communists in the 1980s which blew back into Pakistan; the presence of Islamist insurgent groups and forces such as the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba; Pakistan's thousands of fundamentalist madrassas (Islamic schools) which are thought by some to provide training for little other than jihad.[who?] and secessionists movements – the most significant being the Balochistan liberation movement – blamed on regionalism, which is problematic in a country with Pakistan's diverse cultures, languages, traditions and customs.
List of terrorist incidents in Pakistan[edit | edit source]
- Main article: List of terrorist incidents in Pakistan since 2001
Causes[edit | edit source]
Two of the main causal factors of terrorism in Pakistan are sectarian/religious violence and the Pakistani state's active nurturing of terrorist proxies for perceived strategic ends. Following imposition of martial law in 1956, Pakistan's political situation suddenly changed and thereafter saw dictatorship type behaviour at different levels appearing in the civil service, the army (those most culpable) and political forces or Zamindars (landlords created by the British) who claimed power, probably because the British originally did not consider Pakistan an independent state, yet did not want to intervene; this trend continued into the 21st century, when finally, the US persuaded General Pervez Musharraf to hold elections. Other causes, such as political rivalry and business disputes, also took their toll. It is estimated that more than 4,000 people have died in Pakistan in the past 25 years due to sectarian strife.
Pre-1980[edit | edit source]
In the late 1960s, told the government faced a rebellion in East Pakistan as well as having to deal with its struggle with its western counter-part over resources and political power, which led to the Bangladesh Liberation War. This changed the dynamics of the country and led the Pakistani state to "deal harshly with Hindus and Muslims" in East Pakistan, resulting in secession and the creation of Bangladesh.
Aid to the mujahideen[edit | edit source]
Terrorism in Pakistan since the 1980s began primarily with supporting the Soviet-Afghan War, and the subsequent war against Afghan communists that continued for at least a decade. The conflict brought numerous fighters from all over the world to South Asia in the name of jihad. These mujahideen fighters carried out insurgent activities inside the country well after the war officially ended.
The sectarian violence presently plaguing the country is also said to originate in the controversial Islamist policies of General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq initiated during his tenure as president from 1977 to 1988. These gave immense power to religious figures in the country, who in turn spread intolerant religious dogma among the masses, against non-Muslim countries in general and non-Muslims in particular.
Post Afghan War[edit | edit source]
At the end of the Afghan War, between 1990 and 1996, the Pakistani establishment continued to organize, support and nurture mujahideen groups on the premise that they could be used for proxy warfare in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and in support of the doctrine of "strategic depth" in Afghanistan through the use of the Taliban.
War on Terrorism in Pakistan[edit | edit source]
- Main article: War in North-West Pakistan
The post-9/11 War on Terrorism in Pakistan has had two principal elements: the government's battle with jihad groups banned after the attacks in New York, and the U.S. pursuit of Al-Qaeda, usually (but not always) in co-operation with Pakistani forces.
In 2004, the Pakistani army launched a pursuit of Al-Qaeda members in the mountainous area of Waziristan on the Afghan border, although sceptics question the sincerity of this pursuit. Clashes there erupted into a low-level conflict with Islamic militants and local tribesmen, sparking the Waziristan War. A short-lived truce known as the Waziristan accord was brokered in September 2006, which indicated Pakistan's reluctance to fight Islamic militia.
References[edit | edit source]
- Why they get Pakistan wrong| Mohsin Hamid| NYRoB 29 September 2011
- Zardari says Pak created and nurtured militants - CNN IBN News
- "Musharraf admits Kashmir militants trained in Pakistan". BBC News. 5 October 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11474618.
- Bhutto Conspiracy Theories Fill the Air Time Magazine, December 28, 2007
- Ahmed M. Quraishi. "Strategic Depth Reviewed" Newsline, March 2002
- Agence France Press Two bomb blasts kill 27 in northwest Pakistan
- Pakistan 'extremist leader' held BBC News
- "Good Soldier Yahya Khan" Time Magazine, August 2, 1971
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
- Hassan Abbas. Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, The Army, And America's War On Terror, M.E. Sharpe, 2004. ISBN 0-7656-1497-9
- Tariq Ali. Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State, Penguin Books Ltd, 1983. ISBN 0-14-022401-7
- Zahid Hussain. Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam, New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-231-14224-2
[edit | edit source]
- Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS)
- A profile of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center
- Pakistan Security Research Unit (PSRU)
- Jamestown Foundation on Sipah-e-Sahaba
- Pakistan Information Security Association
- Inside a jihadi training camp in Azad Kashmir, interview, Radio France Internationale's English-language service
- Dossier on Pakistan, includes interview with ex-ISI chief Hamid Gul, report from Dar-ul Uloom-Haqqania madrassa, by Radio France Internationale's English-language service
- Re-socialising Pakistan by Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi