By: William Solz
The Effect of Terrorism in Pakistan
May 21, 2018
What’s the Problem?
Terrorism has claimed several lives in Pakistan and still remains a major global issue today. But to understand the caliber of the situation, we must take a look back into the roots of the issue. Back into the 1980’s where the cold war was at its peak, where the CIA was training the future Taliban. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and killed and raped many of the innocent civilians who stood in their way. The CIA couldn’t let the Soviet Union become the “new” global super power, so they wanted someone in the region that they could trust. Hence Pakistan was chosen because of its close proximity to Afghanistan. With the help of the United States Government, Pakistanis kicked out the Soviet Union and Pakistani army officer—then a Lt.Gen heading the ISI said “If we defeated the Soviets, We can defeat the Indians too.” So they went on to attack Kashmir, ‘bleeding India with a thousand cuts.’Elements inspired by the afghan mujahideen, along with extremists mullas soon joined hands with the ISI to create large scale militancy in the kashmir, within 6 months, during the 1980’s the place had become a militant hotspot. The situation soon came to a close when India and New Delhi increased military support against Pakistan. A few thousand militants were killed, several were caught and the remaining escaped to Pakistan. Towards the end of the 1990s militancy almost died down. These militants who escaped formed terror groups, and a aew of these startups grew big and became today’s Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Tehrik-e-Taliban and Jamaat ul Ahrar and the Pakistani IS. They regularly carry out terror strikes in pakistan, their hands red with the blood of innocent Pakistanis.
The chart above shows the amount of lives taken by terrorism by year starting in 2000. This shows how many people have died from terrorism, and plenty more are affected by the deaths of these people. But more importantly gives a visual to show how many have died on each year, therefore indicating the peak of terrorism.
The intensity of terrorism increased in Pakistan in 2009 as the country experienced mega terrorist attacks on the General Headquarters of Pakistan Army, Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore and on Manawa Police Training Center, Lahore. PIPS data also shows that fifty four political leaders and activists were assassinated in FATA and KPK. There have been over 8,000 recorded terrorist attacks and tens of thousands of lives lost in Pakistan. These attacks leaves both a physical and psychological trauma on the civilians in the areas. The fear of death and the feelings of helplessness also traumatize the lives of inhabitants. Frequent terrorist attacks brought negative social and psychological consequences for Pakistan by destruction of property, infrastructure and sluggish economic growth.
The rate of unemployment increases when there are more terrorist attacks. In Pakistan unemployment increased from 3.12 million in 2009-10 to 3.40 million in 2010-11. This has shown to impacted by numerous factors, such as displacement and the nomadic lifestyle of civilians, employment opportunities decreases due the attacks near local businesses, and people focusing on survival/ basic needs rather than entertainment. Education was also deeply impacted, nearly 1,000 schools were destroyed by militants. This has greatly slowed the growth of the Pakistan, because the key stone to any progress is education. Militants also banned local traditions such as music and recreational activities.
High incidents of terrorism lead to increased political instability in a country. Similarly, war on terror has left significant political impact on Pakistan at domestic, regional and international level. Militants destroyed the local social, political and judicial structures in FATA and Malakand division. The tribal areas of Pakistan are governed by Frontier Crime Regulation and local disputes are settled in Jirgas that work in collaboration with political agents, appointed by the federal government. During crisis, militants killed hundreds of local elders which disturbed the political balance in FATA. Muhammad Irshad, further found, “The presence of the military in FATA in post 9/11 scenario also undermined the authority of political agents. The power of the jirga and political agents has been assumed by Taliban commanders” . This also reduced the influence of political parties in FATA and Malakand division. Women politicians were harassed and an active women councilor from Dir district of KPK was murdered. Pakistan decision to join war on terror has weakened the federation as the fighting is getting longer. This has also created gap between the masses and the Pakistan military as the pro-Taliban section of the people opine that Pakistan army is fighting a war of US while pro-US section of people say that Pakistan military is the biggest hurdle in eliminating terrorism and supporting militants in Afghanistan.
The war on terror suffered Pakistan politically at an international level, Pakistani citizens have been denied US visas and subjected to humiliation at American airports through special search and screening. Pakistan has been captioned as a failing state and maps are published showing its balkanization. This has led to difficult foreign relations with many countries, because it it seen as politically unstable.
Pakistan has suffered a great deal due to the ongoing war on terror and is still paying a heavy price in the form of low economic growth, sacrificing citizens and destruction of infrastructure. War on terror has also shattered the soft image of Pakistan in the international world. Defense expenditures increased manifold, tourism sector suffered, stock exchange experienced low performance and foreign direct investment also decreased significantly. It is important to mention that besides terrorism other related factors like energy supply shortages, global financial crisis of 2008 and heavy floods of 2010 also played significant role in negatively affecting Pakistan economy.
Many Factors are killing the Pakistani Economy, the first one is the slowing down of domestic economic activity. It means that foreign direct investment, industrial output, tax collection and exports decreased. Overall GDP growth suffered due to intensive terrorism. The second one is the increase in the credit risk of the country which means that Pakistan suffered from the financial losses by failing to repay the loans it obtained from financial organizations especially IMF. The third indirect cost is the enormous increase in unemployment in terrorism affected areas like KPK and FATA. Due to losses to agriculture sector, damage to businesses and tourist resorts thousands of people lost their jobs. The fourth one is the heavy costs of displacement of local population. Due to insurgency and counter military operations, millions of people were displaced from Malakand division and FATA. In the fifth place, due to frequent terrorist attacks implementation of development projects got delayed in KPK ; FATA. This delay increased the cost of the projects manifold. With the increase in terrorism the benefits of participation in the war fell as in 2007-08, the United States assisted Pakistan with $1.9 billion, whereas the cost of the war was over three times higher at $ 6 billion. The cumulative cost of the war on terror from 2001-2002 to 2010-2011 is $ 67.9 billion. Data shows that in 2004-05 the direct cost of war on terror for Pakistan was Rs 67 billion which increased to Rs 78 billion in 2005-06 and to Rs 262 billion in 2009- 10. Similarly, the indirect cost increased from Rs 192 billion in 2004-05 to Rs 707 billion in 2009-2010. These costs of the damages and war still have a lasting effect on the economy today.
Many of the factors above are interconnected. Tourism in pakistan drastically declined due to the plethora of terrorist attacks going on in the country, since there are terrorist attack still continuing to this day. The government has invested more money into defense and countermeasures against the terrorist groups. Which takes away from the amount of money they can spend into foreign investment. Also due to the amount of people whom are displaced, many local businesses and companies can be impacted negatively. Thus it can be concluded that the local economy in Pakistan is still heavily affected by the cost of terrorism and can be considered economically unstable.
The Pakistani government is playing both sides of the battlefield. It has helped the terrorists into hiding and even providing aid to them at times. But also has gone on the offensive against these groups. The occurrence of theses actions has provoked the United States to suspend military aid to Pakistan on January, 2018. The United States also had provided financial aid to Pakistan to help pay for war damages in the past, which may stop due to the revocation of military aid. Many of the countries are prioritizing other issues over the terrorism in Pakistan, which has reduced drastically from its peak in 2009. However the United States should be around for a while. For the better or worse, considering Pakistan is funding terrorist groups.