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)