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Costly bargain: Pakistan spent $100 bn to fight terrorism in last 11-years

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By NewsGram Staff Writer 

New Delhi: Latest Pakistan Economic Survey of 2014-15 has revealed a shocking piece of information. The country spent around $100 bn (Rs. 6.4 lakh crore) between 2004-05 and 2014-15 to fight terrorism.

Based on current budget allocation, the sum could have sustained Pakistan’s education funds for 134 years to come.

The losses are direct and indirect. Of the $6.63 billion lost due to terrorist attacks in 2013-14, 38 per cent represented reduced tax collection and 30 per cent reduced foreign investment.

Pakistan contends that the heightened incidences of terrorism is a reaction to the conflict and instability in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

The US invasion of Afghanistan led to an increased influx of refugees into bordering Pakistan, which “witnessed a sudden spike in the frequency and scale of terrorist attacks”, according to the Economic Survey.

Pakistan’s economy is estimated to have grown 4.2 percent during 2014-15.

How terrorism disrupts business

Terrorism in Pakistan is driven by sectarian and ethnic factors. 54,960 people (including terrorists) have died since 2005, according to data released by South Asia Terrorism Portal(SATP), a resource from the New Delhi-based Institute of Conflict Management.

According to IndiaSpend, Pakistan had seen a 748 per cent increase in terrorism-related deaths over the past decade.

Terrorism has disrupted production cycles, delayed exports and increased business costs. “Pakistani products have gradually lost their market share to competitors,” the Survey said.

Pakistan is ranked 154th out of 162 countries, according to the 2015 Global Peace Index, a measure of unrest, published by the Institute for Economics & Peace, a think-tank based in Sydney.

The index judges peacefulness of a country based on 23 indicators under three broad themes: 1) safety and security in society; 2) domestic and international conflict and; 3) degree of militarisation.

With a rating of 3.049, Pakistan is ranked 8 places ahead of last-placed Syria (ranked 162nd) but 11 places behind neighbouring India (ranked 143rd).

Tribal areas the most violent

The Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Northwestern Pakistan are the country’s most violence-prone region, accounting for more than half of all terrorism-related deaths in 2014, according to SATP.

Sindh accounted for 21 percent of total deaths, followed by Balochistan with nearly 12 percent.

The FATA region is home to the violent Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), founded in 2007 and currently headed by Maulana Fazlullah.

The TTP is a different organisation from the Afghan Taliban, originally founded and supported by Pakistan in the 1990s to exert influence over Afghanistan.

TTP “was founded to fight (the) Pakistani establishment,” D. Suba Chandra, director of Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, said in a comment in The Hindu.

TTP has claimed responsibility for some of the most serious attacks in Pakistan, including that on an army school in Peshawar last year. More than 130 children died in that attack.

Terrorism and counter-terrorism

“This attack is a response to Zarb-e-Azb (sword of the prophet) military offensive and the killing of Taliban fighters and the harassment of their familie”,” TTP spokesperson Muhammad Khorasani had said last year.

The Pakistani Army launched Zarb-e-Azb on June 15, 2014 in retaliation for a deadly attack on Karachi airport that left 28 people (including 10 terrorists) dead.

The operation has led to the death of 2,763 militants over the past year, according to Major General Asim Bajwa, director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations.

However, Pakistan’s anti-terrorism efforts have been selective as a US State Department report points out.

It says that the Pakistani military moved against domestically-focused groups, such as the TTP, while the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network leadership continued to find safe havens.

While the Pakistani military action only disrupted the activities of these groups, it did not target them directly, the US report said.

The report further states that Pakistan took no action against groups such as anti-India Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), which continues to “operate, train, rally, propagandize and fund-raise in Pakistan”.

Terrorism has been a contentious issue between India and Pakistan. Pakistan accuses neighboring India of supporting separatists in Balochistan as well as other militant groups. Pakistani Defence Minister Khwaja Asif recently accused India of helping terrorist groups in the country to launch “heinous acts” and said that India “has designs against Pakistan”.

India, in turn, accuses Pakistan of being a state sponsor of terror, responsible for terrorist attacks in Kashmir and the rest of India – the most serious being the 26/11 attack on Mumbai.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Pakistan Elected to UN Human Rights Council along with 14 other countries

The new members will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018

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UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 17, 2017 : Fifteen countries, including Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly.

In a vote on Monday, Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were elected, a Foreign Office statement said.

They will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018. (IANS)

 

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Pakistan Electoral Body Bars Political Party Due to Terror Ties

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Sheikh Yaqub (C) candidate of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, waves to his supporters at an election rally in Lahore, Pakistan. voa

Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) on Wednesday rejected the registration application of a newly established political party with alleged ties to a banned militant group in the country.

Milli Muslim League (MML) has been disqualified to participate in the country’s state and general elections.

The electoral commission’s decision is said to be based on a request made earlier by the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, stating that Milli Muslim League is a front organization for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S.-designated terror sponsoring organization in Pakistan.

“The government is vigilant and under no circumstances will allow any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to spread their extremist ideology through democracy and political means,” Tallal Chaudhry, Pakistan’s minister of state for Interior Affairs, told VOA.

Saif Ullah Khalid, president of Milli Muslim League, dismissed the election commission’s decision and said the party will take the matter to the country’s judiciary.

Political wing

Milli Muslim League was established in August 2017 as a political wing for the controversial Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is believed to be a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group led by Hafiz Saeed.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Saeed has been reportedly under house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore for the past eight months.

In September, during an important by-election in Lahore, when the National Assembly’s seat fell vacant following the disqualification of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the newly launched MML backed an independent candidate who finished fourth in the race for Sharif’s seat.

At the time, Pakistan’s upper house of parliament strongly criticized the country’s election commission for allowing JuD’s political wing, MML, to participate in the Lahore by-election.

Some experts were concerned about the emergence of militant groups joining mainstream politics in Pakistan. They maintain that the political trend seen in Lahore’s by-election, where parties linked to militant groups are able to mobilize and generate sufficient numbers of votes within a very short period of time, as alarming.

“There should be a debate on this sensitive issue through social, political and media channels. By allowing militant-based political parties to integrate into mainstream politics, it will only escalate radicalization in the society,” Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar based political analyst, told VOA.

“There are people who believe with the merger of such militant groups into politics, we’ll provide them an avenue to maintain a political presence without leaving their extreme ideologies,” Hussain added.

Army’s support

Earlier last week, Pakistan’s army acknowledged they are mulling over plans to blend the militant-linked political groups into the mainstream political arena.

Some analysts side with MML, arguing the party should be allowed to participate in elections.

“I do not understand in what capacity the election commission has rejected MML’s application to register as a party,” said Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, the head of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

“Did they (MML) break any law? If not, how can you bar MML from entering the mainstream politics when they’re doing it through legitimate ways,” Mehboob emphasized.

Zubair Iqbal, a Washington-based South Asia expert, also raised concerns over the validity of the decision.

“This is how democracy works. … There are some extreme groups, some moderate groups and no one should be stopped because of their extreme ideologies,” Iqbal told VOA. “The extremist groups can be barred from entering into the politics only through people and democracy.”

“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to participate in the political system they might never change their extreme ideologies and might continue operating underground which will prove to be more dangerous,” Iqbal added.

International pressure

In the past few years, Pakistan has faced escalating pressure from the international community for not being able to crackdown on militant groups enjoying safe havens in Pakistan and launching attacks in neighboring countries.

In his recent speech on the region, U.S President Trump put Pakistan on notice to take actions against safe havens in Pakistan. Pakistani officials deny the existence of safe havens on its soil.

Pakistan is also accused of being selective in its pursuit of terror groups. It allegedly goes after only those groups that pose a threat to the country’s national security, ignoring others that threat India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan rejects the allegations and reiterates its stance of having no sympathy for any terror group operating in the country.(VOA)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.