by Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan for The Saker Blog
The term “terroriste” in French, meaning “terrorist”, is first used in 1794 by the French philosopher François-Noël Babeuf, who denounces Maximilien Robespierre’s Jacobin regime as a dictatorship. Terrorism has many definitions but the well-recognized by the UN is “intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act”.
Although the terms “terrorist” and “terrorism” originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century but gained mainstream popularity in the 1970s in news reports and books covering the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Basque Country, and Palestine. The increased use of suicide attacks from the 1980s onwards was typified by the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001.
Pakistan became the victim of Terrorism since the 1980s, the Afghan War. Traditionally, Pakistan was a very peaceful state and the people of Pakistan were known for its peace, hospitality, and tolerance. In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Pakistan was heaven for foreign tourists, especially from the Western World. Pakistan is blessed with natural beauty, high mountains, Glaciers, Rivers, Beaches, Pilatus, Jungles, Deserts, Archaeological & historical places, and religious places. Pakistani society was famous for the acceptance of Foreigners with all different backgrounds, religions, cultures, and ethnicities. In history, Pakistan has absorbed various cultures, especially the National Language of Pakistan “Urdu” is a mixture of Arabic, Persian and Turkish. The typical Pakistani cultures have roots from Central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Greek-Alexander the Great. During the one century-long British rule, has Westernized Pakistani Society and is a member of Commonwealth Country, English language and culture was dominating visibly. By nature, Pakistanis are peace-loving nature and a rather submissive society.
However, due to the former USSR invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the US gathered Muslim youth from all over the world in Pakistan. Provided them training, weapons, and Dollars to fight against the Russians in Afghanistan. This all was possible by radicalizing them. The US used religion to charge these youth for “Jihad”. The Muslim scholars were paid to promote “Jihad” and textbooks taught in educational schools were modified to promote “Jihad”. The US has funded such scholars’ generously who preach “Jihad”.
Cash and religion were used to exploit Muslim youths for “Jihad” (Holy War). And Taliban, involved in Jihad were treated as heroes. White House was open for them and President Reagan hosted banquets in honor of the Taliban. Some of President Regan’s remakes about the Taliban are denied recently, but it was acknowledged that the Taliban enjoyed the highest degree of respect and honor in the US during the Afghan War during the 1980s.
However, with the help of the Taliban, the US won the war in Afghanistan and the former USSR was to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 1988-89, under an agreement. But unfortunately, the US also lost its interest in Afghanistan and left Pakistan alone to face the consequences of unstable Afghanistan.
Deliberately, Pakistani society was radicalized. Intolerance, extremism, religious divide, ethnicity, and factionists were promoted. The US-funded the individuals with an extremist ideology to promote a division in the society. Insurgency and separatist movements were supported and society was led toward chaos.
Furthermore, during the former USSR invasion of Afghanistan since 1979, Pakistan became the hub of international intelligence agencies. In the beginning, their operations were focused on Afghanistan only. But later on, it was spread and their scope also covers Pakistan is self too. It was not only the US, but many friendly countries also strengthen their Intelligence operation from Afghanistan. Later on, it was noticed that some of the unfriendly countries were also involved in similar operations. After the former USSR withdrawal, some of the international intelligence agencies were using Pakistan as a training ground and executing live operations, sometimes only for the experience.
The easiest way was to identify disgruntles or destitute Pakistanis, brainwash them, fund them and exploit them, was a routine matter. Still, we are facing such incidents, that Pakistanis were used by foreign agents in sabotage, subversion, insurgencies, separatism, and terrorism. This practice is still in exercise, but with a lot reduction in size.
Although the terrorism phenomenon was started since the USSR invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the intensity gained momentum from 200 to 2014, with a peak in 2009. Only in 2009, the worst of any year, 2,586 terrorist, insurgent, and sectarian-related incidents were reported that killed 3,021 people and injured 7,334, according to the “Pakistan Security Report 2009” published by PIPS. These casualties figure 48 percent higher as compared to 2008. On the other hand, the rate of suicide attacks surged by one third to 87 bombings that killed 1,300 people and injured 3,600.
Since, the 16 December 2014 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar, which killed 150, mainly children, claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan-TTP), was ostensibly a game-changer. A week later the government unveiled a new counter-terrorism strategy, the twenty-point National Action Plan (NAP), with Prime Minister and Army Chief, vowing to target all terror groups without distinction.
A massive military action was taken along with the judicial reforms with the involvement of civil society. The death penalty was restored, military courts were established, through media and civic society educational reforms were implemented. Military action was supported by the educational reforms and rehabilitation of effect was implemented. As a re4sult some of the terrorists were killed, some were run into Afghanistan and remaining were changed by education. People were educated toward tolerance, and acceptance of diversity in this society.
While fighting against terrorism, we encountered many tough challenges. The terrorists were well trained and well equipped. Sometimes, they were using many advance tactics and weapons, even better than the Pakistan Army. They were using Satellite phones and Hummer Jeeps, while the Pakistan Army was using rather old communication systems and vehicles. Terrorists were supported by foreign powers and getting logistics and supplies against Pakistan. The terrain was very tough and the region was mountainous and difficult to accessibility. Pakistan blames India and Afghanistan for supporting Terrorists officially. However, India kept on denying and Afghanistan has confirmed. In fact, there were many other foreign powers supporting these terrorists. We suspect many countries like the US, Russia, Israel, Iran, etc. But with no confirmed evidence.
Pakistan Army, Civilian Government, and General public was committed to rooting out the menace of terrorism, once for all. Devotion and firm commitment made us possible to overcome this serious issue. Pakistan is the only country with the highest success in its war against terrorism. Today the number of terrorist attacks has been reduced to around 200 from 2500 at the peak in 2009. Pakistan is still engaged in a war footing against terrorism.
The Irony is that Pakistan was radicalized by some of the friendly nations to achieve their goals. Once they achieved their goals, they left, Pakistan alone to suffer. In fact, those friends played a dirty role to isolate Pakistan and made propaganda against Pakistan as a hub of terrorism. While in fact, Pakistan was the victim of terrorism and suffered huge losses. Pakistan’s sacrifices were not acknowledged or recognized. Pakistan is not seeking any reward for its sacrifices but deserves compensation from those friends who caused this terrorism in Pakistan. Hilary Clinton has committed publically that the US has created the Taliban. It is obvious that Islamophobia is the root cause of terrorism. It is a moral obligation that those who are responsible for the creation of terrorism should assist Pakistan to overcome it. Pakistan expects from the international community to acknowledge and recognition of its sacrifices. I believe, it is the moral duty of the Western World to extend cooperation toward Pakistan to defeat terrorism.
However, Pakistan is a resilient nation and after a lot of effort has succeeded to eliminate terrorism in Pakistan. Pakistanis are genetically peace-loving people and very much accommodative. Our society is open and integrate all immigrants or foreigners in this country. Pakistan accommodated many immigrants from many different countries. These immigrants are well integrated into our society and face no discrimination. There were around 5 million Afghanis in Pakistan at the peak time of war and around 3 million are settled in Pakistan since the 1980s. Their third and fourth generations are living in Pakistan now. There also exists a huge number of Bengalis, Indians, Burmese, Iranian, Iraqis, Syrians, Palestinians, African, Chinese, etc., in Pakistan and enjoying a complete harmony.
Pakistan is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society and diversity is our strength. We won against terrorism by promoting tolerance, education, and traditional culture. I believe Pakistan’s soft power is our best tool to win against all challenges. Today, Pakistan has emerged as a Peace-Loving nation, a mature and responsible state. Prime Minister Imran Khan is a visionary leader and a messenger for Peace. He believes in Peace and wanted to resolve all regional and global issues through peaceful dialogue. He has demonstrated to avert a War with Indian in February 2019 and still insists on his stand of Peaceful resolution of all issues between India and Pakistan, as well as all international disputes.
The rest of the world may avail Pakistan’s experience to counter-terrorism and utilize Pakistan’s expertise in fighting against terrorism globally. We wish to eliminate the menace of terrorism completely.
Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.