Are we serious against terrorism?

Published: January 7, 2013

The writer is a PhD Scholar at West Virginia University in the US

In December 2012, terrorists killed more than 100 people including a hero, Bashir Ahmad Bilour. I analyse this tragedy in the light of established theories in conflict-resolution and policy studies. At least five components are important in dealing with such a conflict: 1) identification; i.e., recognising the issue including its meaning, nature, scope, causes and repercussions; 2) political will; i.e., social and political will to resolve the issue with overwhelming consensus; 3) resources; i.e., the appropriate resources to eradicate it; 4) strategy; i.e., a comprehensive plan and methodology to overcome the conflict and 5) review; i.e., analysing the plan and its outcome in an objective and dispassionate manner. In my opinion, Pakistan’s failure to effectively combat terrorism is only due to its failure to give weight to these factors.

I do not agree that our enemy is faceless. It has a face but we do not want to face him. There are multiple forms of terrorism having multiple causes. It is naïve to say that the Nato presence in the region is the only cause of trouble. Both military and civilian leadership have neither consensus on the definition of terrorism nor on the identity of terrorists. For many people in the country, terrorists are heroes. Despite over 40,000 casualties, there has hardly been any protest or rally against terrorism. At present, the guy who helped the Americans capture the most-wanted terrorist is behind bars and, to this date, we are not clear whether the chief target in that episode was our friend or foe. This speaks volumes of the dichotomy of our approach and the indecisive execution of our plans, and yet, we blame the West for its double standards.

After 9/11, the US government established a new ministry of Homeland Security to protect Americans. President George W Bush had a single agenda: the war on terror. He established a high-powered commission to know why and what had happened. The Americans have shown their resilience, determination and political will to resolve this crisis. They waged two wars against Iraq and Afghanistan as part of their pre-emptive action. On the other hand, despite having suffered far more deaths and losses in this war, we moved not a single inch forward; no special force or department was created. The Abbottabad Commission meant to probe into the operation took more than a year in deliberating it and yet, its findings and subsequent remedial action is not known to the public. This is the importance and seriousness we attach to our war against terrorism.

US taxpayers allocated trillions of dollars to fight this war. How much money have we spent? What resources have we allocated for this war? Look at our annual budgets of the last 10 years and see the amount we allocated to fight terrorism. We didn’t even properly and honestly use the billions of dollars which we got from our allies. We spent more money equipping our military to fight against India rather than against terrorists, as General (retd) Pervez Musharraf once admitted in a television interview. The military forces of over 40 nations are fighting against terrorists thousands of miles away from their land. And we are reluctant to fight these elements on our own soil. This begs the question: are we serious in eradicating terrorism and do we have a strong political will to do so?

As far as the strategy or comprehensive plan is concerned, the civilian and military leaderships are not on the same page. The political leadership is so weak that it is concerned only about its own survival. There is also a lack of unity and command. Is there any one example of a high-level meeting of the cabinet, corps commanders and the Defence Committee where the war on terror was the only issue on the agenda? Our decision-making process is flawed, incoherent, ambiguous and dubious. This is why we have miserably failed to produce a good policy or plan. We have not yet thoroughly and fairly reviewed our policy on terrorism. However, the new military doctrine considering sub-conventional threat from ‘homegrown militancy’ as the number one enemy to our national security is the first step in the right direction.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2013.

Reader Comments (17)

  • shahid
    Jan 8, 2013 - 1:06AM

    I am really perplexed that why army and Civilian government are not willing to strike decisively against the terrorists. Every body knows who they are and where their bases are. So to say they ar faceless enemy is ridiculous. Even if the civilian government is not ordering to launch decisive strike the army should take own initiative as it is the matter of very survival of the country. when the army itself says that terorism is the biggest existential threat for Pakistan. Why the delay to tacke this issue????

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  • Ricky
    Jan 8, 2013 - 1:10AM

    “are we serious in eradicating terrorism?”
    Why start now? The army just realized the threat of terrorists after 11 long years. They would take another decade to act. The secular parties ANP/PPP who have been against the terrorists have been the targets and left in the cold blood by all other parties and institutions. Under these conditions no politician would dare go against these terrorists.

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  • Dr V. C. Bhutani
    Jan 8, 2013 - 4:20AM

    As a retired university teacher who supervised the research of several students who took their MPhil and PhD with me, I can say with confidence that Mr Shabbir Ahmad Khan is destined to be a good scholar. He has shown a remarkable capacity for objectivity which is rare in writing emanating from Pakistan. It is difficult to find a flaw anywhere in his approach or in his delineation of the problem of terrorism which has been stalking Pakistan since 1990. If only we had more people like him not only in Pakistan’s universities but in decision making echelons of the Pakistan government.
    The five factors that he has enumerated in the opening paragraph are the stuff that sound policy is made of. In my view, these factors aggregate to objectivity. This offers hope that someone in Pakistan may see sense in his submissions and do something to eliminate terrorism from Pakistan’s soil. The whole world is saying that much of global terror emanates from Pakistan. A prime minister of UK and a president of France said bluntly and clearly that Pakistan was the fount and source of global terror for the most part. (If needed, I will undertake to provide footnotes about their statements.) This needs to change as much for the peace of the world as for Pakistan’s own good. A State that allows terror to proceed from its soil cannot escape accusation, isolation, and chastisement eventually.
    The US shall not need Pakistan’s cooperation after December 2014. Let us hope there may be appropriate reconsideration in the US thereafter. Mr Shabbir Ahmad Khan’s ideas shall be of much value in that reassessment.
    V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 8 Jan 2013, 0450 IST

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  • sabi
    Jan 8, 2013 - 4:26AM

    Author,
    You have missed the most important aspect,the constitution that legalises hatred on the basis of religion.Future of Pakistan depends on what kinds of laws it has.With present laws it is most certain red.If Pakistan has to survive as a peacefull nation then it has to deal with mullah (Majority sects) with iron hand.

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  • vasan
    Jan 8, 2013 - 6:30AM

    You have missed emphasis on some points. The terrorists are not only among the common people, they are among the political spectrum, army and establishment and its retired personnel. How do u eliminate them ?

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  • Feroz
    Jan 8, 2013 - 8:04AM

    Sir, it is a brilliant article which clearly lays out the facts. The issue that arises and inability to face up to facts is because Religion has got clubbed with the filth of Politics. Religion and Politics do not mix and the result is evident. Religion will get contaminated, polluted and ultimately destroyed. Meanwhile Politics and governance as seen will be casualties because performance will be evaluated in terms of degrees of religion rather than welfare of people. Almost impossible to put the genie back into the bottle. The International community could have helped in inducing change with some shock therapy — withholding economic and military aid. However they too have lacked wisdom and succumbed to the Politics of blackmail, meaning misery for both has to continue indefinitely.

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  • Iron hand
    Jan 8, 2013 - 8:20AM

    Pakistani society cannot defeat terrorism until it rejects, without reservation, the ideology of Al Qaeda. That’s not likely to happen any time soon.

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  • Enlightened
    Jan 8, 2013 - 2:34PM

    Pakistan cannot fight terrorism looking both ways as the military is unlikely to abandon its four decades old policy of hobnobbing with its assets. The new military doctrine which has been mooted three years late has an uphill task of combating terrorism which has its roots deeply entrenched in the country would require a totally different strategy to eliminate militancy in Pakistan. The military needs to take TTP threat most seriously and stop any further negotiations with its factions as this outfit is the most brutal terror organisation in the world and should be handled on a war footing and the troops need to be motivated accordingly to treat Taliban as the enemy of the nation. Military should stop using political consensus as an excuse for not taking decisive action as it would only result in worsening of the situation further and state of anarchy in the whole country.

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  • Sexton Blake
    Jan 8, 2013 - 7:19PM

    @Dr V. C. Bhutani:
    Dear Dr. V. C. Bhutani,
    I am afraid I have to disagree with your assessment of Shabbir Ahmed Khans’s diatribe. There are at least twenty major points which are totally erroneous, each of which would require a lengthy dissertation to show how seriously incorrect they are. Even though “The Express Tribune” staff are generous with word allowance, I think even they would become somewhat exasperated if I had to debunk all the points I disagree with.

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  • numbersnumbers
    Jan 9, 2013 - 2:27AM

    @Sexton Blake:
    Rather than claim you have disagreements on “twenty major points which are totally erroneous” in the authors piece, but don’t think ET will let you post that many, please try to give us at least a few of the major ones you claim to have so we can all see if any of your “erroneous” points have any merit!

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  • Jan 9, 2013 - 3:56PM

    We need to acknowledge this hard fact that Islamists – so brilliantly – have established a link between their actions and the commandment of God almighty. The issue to deal with terror is not about policy choice or conflict resolution. It is more about the worldview of the people which has been shaped rightly or wrongly by the teachings of Islamists over the time. Socio-politico-economic dimension of Muslim Societies, intellectual repression, lack of the freedom of expression, liberty, equality and justice; these are factors are responsible for our worldview and this is not a matter of few years or decades but almost a century. Do the theories of conflict-resolution and policy studies answer this intricate nexus of few Islamists with overwhelming approval by ‘not-so-few’ masses all around Muslim world?

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  • Sexton Blake
    Jan 9, 2013 - 6:07PM

    @numbersnumbers:
    Dear Numbers,
    If you have already decided that what I will write is erroneous why should I bother with a reply to you?

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  • Sexton Blake
    Jan 10, 2013 - 11:15PM

    Most contributors do not seem to realize that the US is not being noble when it creates all the unnecessary wars, on so called terror. The US is going bankrupt and has sacrificed millions of live, for reasons which have not been clearly enunciated, and for the most part, are instigated by shadowy foreign groups, various vested interests, and intelligence agencies, which certainly have no interest in the well being of Pakistani or American people. US debt is now in excess of $58 trillion, and if a serious attempt was made to pay it off, most of the people reading this article will be long gone before it is halfway paid for. Further, apart from total economic incompetence, the US image is being seriously damaged as a result of its continuing nonsensical wars, which work against American strategic interests. So far the US has spent 3.7 trillion dollars on its sub-continent adventure. How could a few thousand hill-billies be so difficult to defeat? Obviously, military incompetence. This then raises the question, why should Pakistan attempt to be as dumb or incompetent as the US? Also, I am reasonably certain that the sub-continent would be a very peaceful and happy place if all the 3.7 trillion dollars had gone towards peaceful investments rather than war, but then, when does the US conduct itself in an intelligent, peaceful way? Another aspect to consider is that the average Pakistani is not endeavouring to get a US PhD, or US citizenship, so they do not have to come up with simplistic newspaper articles which are pleasing to US officialdom. A further consideration is that Pakistan is not leaving the sub-continent and will have to live with its neighbours well after the US has moved out, if of course the US ever does. Pakistan has to tread a fine line of diplomacy without unduly upsetting people. So far the US has used the excuse of 9/11 for its savage forays, without producing any believable evidence as to who was responsible. All that we have so far is the Abbottabad incident, and supposedly a body floating around the Indian Ocean somewhere. There is no hard evidence that would stand up in a court-of-law in regard to 9/11 or Abbottabad, but unfortunately, the US/NATO/ZIONIST groups do not bother too much with diplomacy, or the truth. They just dive in and start wars. Perhaps that is why the US and it puppets have created in excess of 39 wars since WWII, have been responsible for several millions deaths, and have ravaged many, many countries. This kind of destruction makes the activities of the Taliban, and other so called terrorist groups in Pakistan/Afghanistan, who are defending themselves against invaders, pale into insignificance. I consider that Pakistan, with all its imperfections is on the right track. After all, if one looks at the appalling economic mess the Western countries have inflicted upon themselves over the last few years, together with the destruction they have created in mostly Islamic countries, Pakistan is starting to look like a role model, which many countries would do well to emulate, and of course the US in particular, which has become a pariah state.

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  • Caribbean Critic
    Jan 11, 2013 - 4:46AM

    Ever the Gentleman Sexton Blake does not go far enough. The real terrorists are the standing Armies and Secret services of the Western Nations in particular the USA, UK, Israel, France etc.
    These Nations are responsible for the slaughter of 234 million since the US declaration of Independence in 1776! In fact since that date there have been only 2 years in the late 18 hundreds when American and British Armies have not been engaged in killing innocent foreigners in imperial wars of aggression!

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  • Eddie dex
    Jan 11, 2013 - 9:23AM

    @preston Blake
    What a load of anti American propaganda that has no truth in it…it is people like you that are confused about who the enemy really is in Pakistan…it has nothing to do with NATO troops in Afganistan…the enemy is the terrorist born and trained in Pakistan…when will you wake up and recognize that it is not the west, or India or any other country…your enemy is within…Recommend

  • Noor Fatimah
    Jan 11, 2013 - 7:40PM

    I would like to appreciate you Sir Shabbir Ahmed Khan.This article is really good and like a wake-up call for Pakistani nation.We can’t say that we cannot recognize our enemy but we can say that we don’t want to give him the name of an enemy, and in such a way we are protecting him, covering him and letting him destroy us.We all need to think on this topic because terrorism is spreading rapidly and our government is not making any policy against it.
    Why don’t our government make any project regarding anti-terrorism.And we also need to clear this thing that terrorists are not from any religion, they don’t have any believes because non of the religion preaches terrorism so how can a terrorist be Muslim,Christian,Jew,Hindu or from any other religion.He is just a TERRORIST not even be able to called a human !

    Recommend

  • Noor Fatimah
    Jan 11, 2013 - 7:45PM

    I would like to appreciate you Sir Shabbir Ahmed Khan.This article is really good and like a wake-up call for Pakistani nation.We can’t say that we cannot recognize our enemy but we can say that we don’t want to give him the name of an enemy, and in such a way we are protecting him, covering him and letting him destroy us.We all need to think on this topic because terrorism is spreading rapidly and our government is not making any policy against it.
    Why don’t our government make any project regarding anti-terrorism.And we also need to clear this thing that terrorists are not from any religion, they don’t have any believes because non of the religion preaches terrorism so how can a terrorist be Muslim,Christian,Jew,Hindu or from any other religion.He is just a TERRORIST not even be able to called a human!

    Recommend

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