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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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The Other Side of “Hindu Pakistan”

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province

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The-Other-Side-of-“Hindu-Pakistan”
The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures.

Sagarneel Sinha

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country. BJP didn’t let the opportunity go by launching a scathing attack on Tharoor and his party for insulting Hindus and Indian democracy, forcing the Congress party to distance itself from its own MP’s comment. Only one year is left for the next general elections and in a politically polarised environment such comments serve as masala for political battles where perception is an important factor among the electorates.

Actually, Tharoor, through his statement, is trying to convey that “India may become a
fundamentalist state just like its neighbour — Pakistan”. Tharoor is a shrewd politician and his remarks are mainly for political gains. The comments refer to our neighbour going to polls on 25 th of this month which has a long history of ignoring minorities where the state institutions serve as a tool for glorifying the religious majority bloc and ridiculing the minorities. This compelled me to ponder about the participation of the Hindus — the largest minority bloc of the country, in the upcoming polls.

There are total 37 reserved seats for minorities in Pakistan — 10 in the National Assembly
(Lower House), 4 in the Senate (Upper House) and 23 in various state legislatures — 9 in the Sindh assembly, 8 in Punjab and 3 each in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistani Hindus, like other minorities have the dual voting rights in principle. But the reality is they have no rights to vote for their own representatives as the seats are reserved — means the distribution of these seats are at the discretion of parties’ leadership. Practically speaking, these reserved seats are meant for political parties not for minorities. In case of general seats, it is almost impossible for a Hindu candidate to win until and unless supported by the mainstream parties of the country. The bitter truth is — the mainstream parties have always ignored the Hindus by hesitating to field them from general seats. In 2013, only one Hindu candidate — Mahesh Kumar from the Tharparkar district won from a general seat, also became the only minority candidate to make it to the National Assembly from a general seat. This time too, he is nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — a major centre-left party of Pakistan. However, there are no other Hindu candidates for a general seat from the two other significant centre-right parties — former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s Tehreek-E-Insaf (PTI). Although, there is a Hindu candidate named Sanjay Berwani from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — a Karachi (capital of Sindh province) based secular centrist party of Pakistan.

Shashi_tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is
elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country.

The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures. It means that despite the state’s hostile policies, Hindus have been able to remain stable in a highly Islamist polarised society. 90% of the Hindu population of the country lives in the Sindh province. Hindu population in Umerkot,Tharparkar and Mirpur Khas districts of the Sindh province stands at 49%, 46% and 33% respectively — making them the only three substantial Hindu districts of the country. The three districts have 5 National Assembly and 13 Provincial seats. However, Hindus have never well represented from these seats.

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province. Many of them belong to the Schedule caste — the Dalit community. A recent report based on Pakistan Election Commission’s data says that out of 2.5 lakh women of Tharparkar district, around 2 lakh of them are not included in the electoral list — means that they are not entitled to vote for the upcoming general elections. All over the country, there are about 1.21 crore women voters who will not be able to vote in the elections. The reason is the lack of an identity card. Most of them are poor who are unable to pay the expenses required for an identity card. This has made difficult for independent Hindu Dalit candidates like Sunita Parmar and Tulsi Balani as most of their supporters will not be voting in the upcoming polls. In Tharparkar district, around 33% percent are the Hindu Dalits — brushed aside by the mainstream parties. The reserved seat candidates are based on party nominations, where mainly the upper caste Hindus are preferred. Radha Bheel, a first time contestant and the chairperson of Dalit Suhaag Tehreek (DST), a Dalit organisation, says that the fight is for the rights of the lower socio-economic class and scheduled castes. Sunita, Tulsi, Radha and the other independent Hindu candidates know
that the possibility of winning from the general seats is bleak but for them the contest is for their own identity — an identity never recognised by the political parties and the establishment of Pakistan.