Reaping a bloody harvest: The cost of terrorism for Pakistan



By Ishan Kukreti

Violence is a two-edged sword that Pakistan had been carelessly waving for a bit too long. On hindsight, that sword has left the nation with much to mourn about than to cheer.

To go strictly by statistics, 35,000 Pakistanis lost their lives between 2001 to 2011, due to terror-related atrocities. In financial terms, according to the Pakistani government, terrorism has cost the nation roughly 68 billion dollars in the first decade of the 21st century. For more than a decade, hardly a single month has gone by peacefully without registering terror related deaths in the country.

Former Presidents, Asif Ali Zardari and Parvez Musharraf, have confessed Pakistan’s role in promoting terrorism. Groups like Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Omar, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Sipah-e-Sahaba to name a few have long been operating out of territories owned or occupied by Pakistan.

Though it has joined US’s war on terrorism, its tendency to differentiate between beneficial (Good Taliban) and not so beneficial terrorism (Bad Taliban) has prevented Pakistan from taking the problem head on. In turn, the measures taken by the nation against the “Bad Taliban” have unleashed reactions that Pakistan finds difficult to bear.

Bracketing Pakistani terrorism

The cat of Taliban’s origin has been long out of the bag. US’s involvement has been as major as Hydrogen’s in Sulfuric acid formation. However, a fact often overlooked in the shining star cast of Taliban’s inception is that the movement was fed manpower and guidance by Pakistan. Mujahedeen from Pakistan were the ones who gave and took lives in the war against Communism in Afghanistan.

Image courtesy Reuters.
Image courtesy Reuters.

Dilshod Achilov, a professor of political science at East Tennessee State University, while in an interview with International Business Times clarified the position of Pakistan.

“We should not forget the historical roots of the present day Taliban/Al-Qaeda dilemma. Let’s recall the historical facts that shed light into the present. We know that both the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI helped to create the Taliban militia forces to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during the [latter stages of the] Cold War. When the Soviets retreated from Afghanistan, the army of 100,000-plus well-armed and well trained Taliban mujahedeen still remained.”

Everyone loves an extra hand

The striking coincidence in the ending of Cold War and the beginning of militancy in Kashmir doesn’t require a Machiavelli to understand the relation. In a fight over a disputed piece of land, this well trained and armed army provided a reliable extra hand for Pakistan.

At the same time, this helping hand provided a good influence over Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s relations with Taliban while it ruled Afghanistan are contested. However, Pakistan second fiddling the uncle in this whole process is undoubtedly clear. Afghanistan’s strategic placement in relation to the oil-rich Middle East made it lucrative to the US while Pakistan played a willing side kick to the uncle in his adventures in the region.

(Video courtesy Al Jazeera English)

What goes around…

Taliban’s castle in Afghanistan came down with the World Trade Center in 2001 followed by US’s war on terrorism. Pakistan’s trouble began after the Waziristan War while the formation of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2007 turned the tables completely on the nation. Major terrorist attacks in Pakistan increased from 16 in 2006 to 50 in 2007, the year TTP became active. Last year’s attack on an army school, leaving more than 100 kids dead, too was carried out by TTP.


Pakistan’s sincerity in fighting terrorism has always been and still is in question. The US State department recently made a statement, “The military operations had a significant impact on TTP safe havens, but some terrorist organizations in the region continued to operate, primarily along the border with Afghanistan.”

On one hand the decrease in the frequency of terror attacks in Kashmir is reason enough to believe that Pakistan has a lot on its plate right now. On the other, the fact that Pakistan has not taken a serious action against terrorists like Hafiz Muhammad Saeed says a lot about the present calm in the situation. It is caused by reasons other than good intentions and is temporary.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (Image courtesy CNN)
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (Image courtesy CNN)


No conflict continues due to purely economic or petty reasons, although they are a major factor. Deeper, under the palpable layers of logical connections lies a belief, a faith.

Faith drove the Conquistadors to slaughter an entire race. It was the adherence to an ideology that razed Europe to the ground in the last century. And it is faith that continues the Indo-Pak conflict. A belief that religion decides a person’s nationality and makes murder excusable.