Militaristic approach of countering terrorism counterproductive

Our history of terrorism is as old as our willingness to use violence to affect politics. We have inherited and are still facing different forms of terrorism since Zia’s era of political Islamisation and the Soviet Afghan war. Currently we are at war with a terrorist movement fueled by a radical ideology of injustice, oppression, and socio-economic disparity.

Countering terrorism has been on the agenda of our civil and military establishment for decades. We have devised multiple strategies to eradicate this menace from our soil. From intelligence gathering to intelligence-based operations and banning militant organizations to military operations, every time our efforts to curb militancy seemed to fail while terrorist attacks continued. From Rah-e-Nijat to Rah-e-Rast and from Zarb-e-Azb to Radd-ul-Fassad, we come up with a new name with the same old ideology.

We do not seem to have learnt anything from past. Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it; and that is exactly what we are doing. We are still trying to remove the stains of blood with blood – impossible. Gandhi once said, “an eye for eye will make the world blind’.

We will have to change our mindset to address this turmoil. At least now we should realise that defeating terrorism with purely militaristic mindset is not possible. We have been trying this actively for at least four decades but time and again there are instances that expose all the persisting gaps and vulnerabilities in our security infrastructure along with the mindset. We keep on doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result each time.

We should devise a multipronged strategy covering all aspects and reasons of terrorism rather than terrorism itself. We should put all the stakeholders together and ask of the causes and conditions that create a favourable climate for terrorism.

We have often mistakenly associated terrorism with religious fanaticism, or with a particular sect of religion or ethnicity. Terrorists have no religion and ethnicity. Every religion discourages violence practiced in any form and dissociates itself from those who commit their actions under its shelter. It is more of a greed driven phenomenon rather than belief driven.

We should start from the prevailing social and economic injustice – poverty, unequal distribution of wealth and discrimination – the root causes of terrorism. Almost all the resources of this country are being controlled, governed, and invested by a handful of ruling elite according to their priorities and stakes. When the budget of a single train line in Lahore will be several times higher than the developmental budget of the whole of FATA, the obvious result will be monopoly and socio-economic disparity. As this inequality grows, naturally more and more people are becoming desperate. When someone is stripped of his rights, he will be persuaded to look for alternative means of achieving them and when he cannot have his rights through fair legal means, he will be forced to believe that he has no other choice but violence.

If only half of the amount of money wasted on wars was invested in education and healthcare, the results would have been different. Our education system, especially the one in religious seminaries, needs reforms and this is the prime need of the hour. The billions of rupees spent on advertising roads and flyovers, can really make a difference if invested in socio-economic well being of the under privileged.

Government should invest its time and resources to investigate how this militancy is being financed. Without adequate sources of finance, terrorism is simply unsustainable. The arms and ammunition used in terror activities and the paid ‘volunteers’ being hired for training camps and co-ordination – all need money. We will have to trace and eliminate those sources providing financial cover to the militants. Funds channeled to the extremist organisations in the name of charity and religious donations, also need to be traced.

Similarly, corruption facilitates/feeds terrorism and both are proportionately interlinked. The black money generated through bribe, corruption and tax evasion is susceptible to being used for terror financing. Continuous increase in black economy and financial corruption puts a question mark on our fight against terrorism.

FATA, GB, Azad Kashmir and Balochistan need development on equal basis. People of FATA are facing wars and militancy for more than past four decades. They also deserve peace, stability and development. Developmental projects should be initiated in these under-developed areas with special focus on infrastructure, health, and education. Economic zones should be made with special incentives to bring them at par with the rest of Pakistan.

Fighting terrorism requires endurance, special counter terrorism, and countering socio-economic factors along with the intelligence and swift operations. Peace does not mean just to end violence, but also to end oppression, injustice, and hypocrisy. Without controlling the increasing disparity and economic inequality, our dream to fight terrorism will just be a dream.

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  1. Rameez says

    Our leaders are not sincere in eliminating terrorism, otherwise noting is impossible. Everyone is playing his own dirty politics.

    1. Javaid says

      Exactly. Leaders are actually facilitating the terrorism. They are even worst than the actual terrorists.

  2. Xalman says

    Terrorism will not be eliminated until the states within the state (religious mafia) are more powerful than the state itself.

  3. Javaid says

    Well analyzed the situation … but how can you defy terrorism when the facilitators of terrorists are sitting in the parliament??

  4. Jeff says

    End corruption and you will end terrorism.

    1. Civilian says

      Economic terrorism, as quotes Dr. Shahid Masood and the violent terrorism will end

  5. Jeff says

    Give rights to the people of Balochistan as equivalent to the people of Punjab and there will be no terrorism in Balochistan.

  6. Civilian says

    The worst of any government in this world is the one which don’t give rights to its people. Give rights to people and their will be no problem for the government to perform

  7. Iftikhar Ali says

    Educate public and give them jobs so that the donot have time to think about terrorism.

  8. Farman Khan says

    Unequal distribution of Wealth , Ruling of Elite Class . AMEER SE AMEER TAR and Ghareeb ae Ghareeb tar jab Tak Hota rahay Ga.. When the rights of The poor are omitted , The Dream of Peace is literally mere a Dream only then..

  9. Bilal says

    Pakistan Army zindabaad.

  10. Bilal says

    Poverty is not everything. Now a days terrosits are also from well known universities and with strong financial background. Moral training and upbringing also matters

  11. Adeel says

    Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities. Pope Francis

  12. M. Hameed Khawaja says

    Get rid of this democracy boss and you will have no terrorism. Politicians are the greatest cause of this disparity and inequality. Politicians have their own interests and they do not think of public. Public suffers and the result in violence.

  13. Syed Aqil says

    Good one. As long as the parties like PPP and PMLN will be in power, terrorism will be a reality.

  14. Kashif Khalil says

    State is primarily responsible for terrorism. When a mob of few religious clerics hostages the federal capital for three days and the government is busy in negotiating with terrorists, how could we expect this terrorism to end??

  15. Sadia Ahmed says

    We have to be bold in our national ambitions. First, we must win the fight against poverty within the next decade. Second, we must improve moral standards in government and society to provide a strong foundation for good governance. Third, we must change the character of our politics to promote fertile ground for reforms. – Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

  16. Marria Azeem says

    Aid can work where there is good governance, and usually fails where governments are unable or unwilling to commit aid to improve the lives of their people.

  17. Masood Khan says

    Good written and beautifully co-related dear but I think that economic conditions are not the only contributor towards terrorism. There are other things as well and one of which being foreign influence and anti-Pakistan elements in the outside world that you havent accounted for.

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