06 July 2011: Local Correspondent Zahid Shahab Ahmed travels in Pakistan, and reflects on how terrorism is affecting the lives of ordinary people in the country. What are the causes of the terrorism, and what can be done to reduce the levels of terrorism in the future?

This past month I have been travelling in Pakistan and visited my home city of Islamabad. Sadly, the city now feels alien to me from the one I knew. The capital of Pakistan, it now has perhaps most extensive police and military security presence in the country. The scale of the security apparatus has both pros and cons, but for me it demonstrates the unfortunate status of state security, especially in the aftermath of the Abbottabad operation in which Osama bin Laden was assassinated.

The increased security measures can be seen as the government’s response to the security needs of its citizens. Terrorism is not a recent phenomenon in Pakistan. Ever since Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan-Soviet war (1979-1988), terrorist organisations have established their roots in the country and also in other parts of the region. Osama bin Laden and thousands of other Arabs were brought to Pakistan and Afghanistan to wage jihad (holy war) against the so-called Soviet infidels. In parallel, religious extremism has been on the rise with a mushrooming of madrasa culture which in many cases has promoted or justified terrorism.

A sign advises of a police security checkpoint in Islamabad, Pakistan.

US-Pakistan relations

US-Pakistan relations are at a low ebb at present because of the continuous violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty by the US. Beyond the Abbotabad raid and the Raymond Davies case , the numerous US drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan have inflamed public opinion and resulted in the deaths of 957 people in 2010 according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Such attacks have fuelled the growth of terrorism in Pakistan, as many people lose faith in central government and see it as subordinate to the policies of the US. The anger at the government is evident in the recent cases of attacks on members of security forces. Terrorism has most severely affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and Karachi. According to State of Human Rights in 2010 report, in the reported year, 453 terrorist attacks took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 697 in FATA. Suicide terrorism is on the rise with 67 attacks in 2010 in almost all major places in the country.

Both the ‘war against terror’ and or the security arrangements against terrorist attacks have disturbed day-to-day life of ordinary people in Pakistan
Both the ‘war against terror’ and or the security arrangements against terrorist attacks have disturbed day-to-day life of ordinary people in Pakistan. For example, in big cities there has been improvement of road infrastructure but common people cannot fully benefit from this development due to certain central road links being no go areas. This has become a common phenomenon in Karachi and Islamabad – the cities I have visited so far. This situation translates into people covering more distances to reach their everyday destinations, meaning more consumption of time, fuel and money.

Every day, I and thousands like me waste a lot of time in queues before security checks at some important and not so important places in Islamabad; therefore, I think everyone is supposed to spare 30-40 minutes to be in time for schools, offices or meetings. Personally, I am feeling as if the entire road infrastructure of the city has been changed, because I often encounter roads with a huge sign board “STOP” – meaning change your route. There are places such as the Presidential Palace, Supreme Court, Prime Ministers Secretariat, Serena Hotel etc. where common people don’t have access.

Terrorism has completely destroyed some important job sectors in the country, such as the tourism industry. Due to operations in Swat, tourism industry has not recovered yet because even locals don’t feel insecure to visit the Switzerland of Pakistan. Consequently, thousands must have lost their livelihood. Ultimately, this tragic situation is pushing thousand below the poverty line.

After the Osama operation, the security situation in Pakistan has deteriorated. When I landed in Karachi, a taxi driver was just sharing how insecure it has been in the city. Karachi, the financial capital of Pakistan, has been home to increasing number of terrorist attacks and ethnic conflicts. For example, recently base of Pakistan Navy was attacked by terrorists in Karachi.

A secure and sovereign Pakistan is in the interest of all parties interested in eradicating terrorism from South Asia and beyond. The international community needs to develop better strategies of preserving a democratic Pakistan.


Nancy Kaufmann on July 13, 2011, 3:35 a.m.

The author states: "US-Pakistan relations are at a low ebb at present because of the continuous violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty by the US." This is like saying: You and I don't get along because of how you treat me. To be fair--both sides of a deteriorated relationship should be acknowledged. While I don't happen to agree with any assassination of terrorists, I believe a good argument could be made that the Blue Seal team had to proceed without informing the Pakistani government because sharing intelligence could very well have jeopardized its operation in Abbottabad. Pakistanis are justifiably fed up drone strikes and just don't trust the Americans, and on the other hand the duplicity seen from the Pakistani military and ISI have frustrated the Americans no end. If Pakistan would like to reduce US interference, it should be happy to refuse military aid from Washington.

Deepan Chander on Oct. 31, 2011, 5:30 p.m.

Pakistan should stop terrorism, the most important thing war between india and pak should be put an end. Kashmir belong to india, which is been near 45yrs after separation of pak and india. Many war has broken between countries many human loss on both side. Instead of pak armed force spend money in developing weapon should take care country first and foremost.Many states in pak suffering country cant fulfill the need of common people. Instead of it, keep on fighting with india is waste of time. Many beautiful plan can be bring in the country to improve status of each individual in country. waste of spending money in weapon. So people and leaders should understand important of pak growth and peace we all want. It not hindu muslim or christian, we all need peace. Country leaders should take right decision and leave war.Really a commom individual and innocent people are suffering in both the country. The cause for real man on safer side this is absolute truth.

Deepan Chander on Oct. 31, 2011, 5:38 p.m.

The influence of america been so increased more in pak. Yes it is absolute truth, yes offcource no body will like others controlling us. But fact near military academy of pak, bin laden lived. It shows the clear picture pak given place to terrorist. Even butto has been killed by terrorist. People should think what is going on. Many innocent people has been killed in pak, dut to terrorism. Really people suffer alot. Due to govt and leaders. I feel.

vilop on Feb. 26, 2014, 9:27 a.m.

There are so many beggars in pakistan land termed to be an terrorists leader like JuD Mohd Hafeez Saeed, Al-qaida terrorists, pak taliban, J-e-M, L-e-T. To eliminate and dismantle these terrorists the only thing is drone attacks against these terrorists. Unless these terrorists -baffons are not eliminated by security sources they cause threaten to the society like an AIDS. These terrorists teaches terrorism. Rgds, Vilop, _91-80-9620504282, India

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