A National Approach to Terrorism.
“To eradicate terrorism it’s imperative we understand the social, economical, psychological, emotional and religious state of mind and conditions of the ones involved in terrorism. Along with this, the ruling elite must share the poverty of the poor and bring justice across the board. Also the promoters of secularism are the agents of foreign masters who through their propaganda fan hatred and hurt the religious sentiments of the masses that breeds reaction of sorts.” Raja Mujtaba
By Sheraz Ali
Terrorism has become a global phenomenon, yet every society has a different definition according to its interests and situations; each choosing to focus on different factors, grounds and perceptions. A terrorist for one person may indeed be a freedom fighter for another. Adding to these diverse perspectives is the fact that terrorism has now moved from primitive methods and ways into sophistications of the time.
Raja Mujtaba says, “In present times, a highly sophisticated form of terrorism is related to human mind than the physical or violent ones. There are various tools that are employed to condition the mind to make the people feel insecure by creating a deep sense of fear in their minds. Once a fear is created, it becomes lot easier to achieve the objectives.” Therike Taliban Pakistan (TTP) a CIA sponsored movement used FM radios to condition the human minds of the people, the results were phenomenal. As a state policy Pakistan lacks it and almost all the channels are free to air whatever they wish to. PTV, a government channel is never used to promote national goals, objectives or agendas but has always been used to promote the party in power.
The traditional right of the State to practice violence in defence of its own security meant that terrorism was previously bound within the circle of State, State-sponsored and nationalist. We might say for instance, that USA’s nuclear attack on Japan or Indian army’s activities in occupied Kashmir are acts of State terrorism, India’s involvement in Pakistan’s territories is an act of State-sponsored terrorism. But contemporary terrorism is much more enhanced therefore in modern terms, a purely tactical definition of terrorism can be used to describe more specific methods, in keeping with the more complex nature of terrorism of present times.
Now the terrorists have assumed global dimensions that incorporate a high state of mobility and flexibility with access to modern weapons and technologies. They have easier access to their targets or potential assets than ever before. So it is simply not practical or realistic to restrict a definition of terrorism to the boundaries of conventional warfare when it develops as it does in the high-tech era of globalisation.
Terrorism is clearly an evil which must be eradicated for the betterment of humanity and the world’s peace, and yet it requires highly counterproductive measures in this regard. This is the conundrum of security professionals the world-over. In Pakistan, it has become the number one menace; require lot of work to uproot it, but the War on Terror following the fall of the Twin Towers and the American presence in the region has further fanned it than curbing it. Pakistan has been experiencing a new wave of this contemporary, multi-faceted terrorism that is primarily in retaliation to American presence in the region and for the support that Pakistan has rendered to this so called ‘War on Terror.’ This stance of Pakistan has pitched the otherwise peace loving people against the ruling elite. American presence in the region has brought host of other countries and spy agencies that are targeting Pakistan for their own agendas. There have been instances involving intelligence agents who were not only dubious but openly operating against Pakistan; Raymond Davis is a prime example of this. There has also been evidence of the involvement of RAW, Mossad, MI6 and CIA etc. to subvert the people against the State.
Besides, there have been a number of significant contributing factors in the promotion of terrorism such as poverty, injustice, and extremism, whether religious or secular; yet one of the outstanding reasons for this current extreme wave of terrorism in Pakistan is an emotional reaction against the imposition of a secular ideology and Parvez Musharraf’s ‘enlightened moderation’ via the ruling class over the Pakistan’s conservative society that holds its ideology and laws based on Islamic Shariah.
Pakistan has paid a very heavy price for assuming and boasting a ‘Frontline State’ status in this war. It has ransacked Pakistan’s economy, brought fragmentation in the socio fabric of the society resulting in its destabilization whereby the conditions are quite chaotic in the country. Although Pakistan had no role or responsibility for the beginning of this war but has been thrust upon us when America terrorized Pakistan with threatening telephonic messages, now Pakistan is neck deep into this quagmire. Not only Pakistan’s reputation but that of Islam and the Muslims from all over has also been damaged. In fact, the Pakistani perception is that notwithstanding the country’s co-operation, every effort continues to be made to place Pakistan in a tight a corner through ‘Do More’ mantra.
This war has also had a devastating effect on the nerves of the people of Pakistan, who have not only been traumatized through unpleasant socio-psychological impacts, but also physical to some extent. The people of Pakistan feel as if they are under attack by all means, whether they find themselves the victims of terrorist activities, of drone attacks from the international forces, or by being indirectly cornered by threats of surgical attacks from the powers which represent the stakeholders in this war. The external powers can therefore not be exonerated for the deteriorating situation of Pakistan which is fighting the war on their behalf, for their vested interests in the region.
Now Pakistan is left no option but to fight terrorism; here it must resolve to peace through dialogue than fighting with death machines. There are some challenges that would have to be overcome before peace can be restored. Our law enforcement agencies need to be reformed and better equipped with modern weapons and equipment. Also the law enforcing agencies must acquire the services of qualified and experienced psychologists and religious scholars; this would help to fight the evil with a more humane approach. Media has a definite role to play but not without direction; who is to provide the direction is a million dollar question. Media is the latest and by far the most potent of all weapons, it can devastate or fortify a society depending how it’s applied. This can change perceptions at a much faster pace with high results through unquestioned media. Besides the electronic media, cyber media should also be used very effectively. Social website, blogs and news websites supported by live streaming can change the tides. In the first Gulf War, CNN and BBC played a very crucial role to build the case and then see it through its execution and so was the attack on Afghanistan after 9/11. It lost the moral ground once too many ambiguities and lies were discovered in the operation and fixing the blames. Therefore utmost care must be ensured never to feed the public with lies.
Pakistan can only achieve this through a coherent policy that runs similar threads in its entire dimension. A national policy must be developed, settled issues like Pakistan’s ideology etc. must not be debated, focus should be more on forward looking policies that carries on board a broad spectrum of the society. Political and religious parties should also operate within the same framework to provide more cohesion to the national goals and objectives. There is a serious need to promote tolerance, ethics, morals and national values in our education system and among the political parties and their activists as well.
Dependence on international loans and aids is another limiting factor for Pakistan that gives a strong leverage to the donors who take maximum advantage of it. The donors exert influence on Pakistan’s policies whether internal or external and may try to impose their own course of action that invariably is damaging to Pakistan’s national interests and objectives.
If we take a closer look at contemporary counter terrorism strategies, then it becomes apparent that every country continues to project its own objectives and interests when it comes to countering terrorism. However, the threats and challenges faced by Pakistan require some different perspectives to those of the international powers. Unfortunately, we have often overlooked these, in order to fight a war of international interests, either knowingly or unknowingly. It is time for Pakistan to pull itself out of this so-called War on Terror as soon as possible, and to develop its own solid strategy and plan of action. To adequately address the issue of terrorism in-line with Pakistan’s needs, such action must include the development and refinement of a National Policy, a revival of authentic Islamic ideology, a National Consensus to deal with terrorism, well-developed Anti-Corruption units, strong State institutions, the imparting of quality education, balanced promotion of nationalism and finally, the implementation of Anti-Terrorism Laws.
Most importantly, any counter terrorism strategy that Pakistan adopts, should include propositions not only avoid terrorist attacks but also a plan to discourage people from supporting terrorism, by eliminating the root causes that are peculiar to Pakistan’s society. Any such counter terrorism strategy is useless until the root causes are dealt with.
Pakistan should stand firm on ‘No More’ now enough is enough. This position can only be adopted when there is a direct linkage between the ruling elite and the masses. Mere statements from the higher echelons of power are as hollow as meaningless they are.
Sheraz Ali is a young Criminologist has abiding interests in Security, Criminological theory and Community justice and a Criminal
Investigation trainer. He is influenced from Proactive Responses, his Work is Emblematic of Reform in Criminal Justice that elucidates the Integrated Mechanisms of Crime Reduction. He is working on the issues like field Security, Threat Assessment, and Risk Management, affiliated with “SECURE” as Security Expert and Policy maker. He holds Masters Degree in Criminology and Security Studies from University of the Punjab Lahore.