WAR ON TERROR IN PAKISTAN
PROF. SAEED AHMAD SIDDIQUI
Oct 1 - 7, 2012
Terrorism in Pakistan has become a persistent economic, social and political curse. Insecurity and uncertainty have become the rule of the day in the country specially in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khybar Pakhtoon Khua right from the date when Pakistan joined hands with US in so called 'war on terror'. As consequence, flight of capital from Pakistan is being taking place, economic activities have terribly slowed down and foreign investors have become cautious to bring and invest their capital in Pakistan. By irrigating the poisonous tree of terrorism with the water of help in US 'war or terror', Pakistan has received fruits full of poison which ruined economic, social and political health of the country:
1. AGGRAVATION IN FOOD PROBLEM: In accordance with the report of Pak-US Business Council, instability in Afghanistan has impacted Pakistan severely. Political instability of Afghanistan has given fetal below to the economy of Pakistan worth $35 billion. Moreover, smuggling of food items/commodities is taking place on the very large scale due to prevalence of uncertainty and political unrest. Obviously, the fuel is added to the fire of food shortage already prevailing in Pakistan.
2. THREAT OF AID TO PAKISTAN: The new administration of Obama has recently warned that Pakistan would be held responsible for security in border range of Afghanistan. Moreover, the volume of aid would depend on the extent of cooperation in the war against terr extended by Pakistan. The words 'do more' have stick on the lips of America. Constant drone attacks are killing innocent people and are persistently increasing the socio-economic problems of Pakistan.
3. FINANCIAL LOSSES: According to Ministry of Finance, from 2004 till date, terrorism has caused a loss of Rs. 3090 million directly or indirectly. During the financial year 2008-9, this loss was about Rs. 284 million which affected the socio-economic development of the country so badly in terms of decrease in exports, foreign investment, industrial output, distortion of soft image of the country and fall in tax collection in the government exchequer. The report of ministry revealed that the campaign against terrorism brought the state budget under heavy pressure because enormous addition had to be done in law enforcing agencies and consequent to this, budget and size of development projects had to be cut short.
4. FAILURE OF POVERTY ALLEVIATION EFFORTS: As far as Poverty Alleviation Program, it failed miserably. Joining the hands in war on terror, spread unemployment in the war affected areas on the large scale. Rate of poverty increased fast in the rural areas of Pakistan. The rate of poverty in 2007-8 was 23.9% which increased to 37.5%. The socio-economic fabric of the country was affected due to constant bombing, deteriorating law and order situation and displacement of local population. The World Bank suspended $ 834 million of two key loans due to deteriorating law and order situation and terror affected places particularly in Northern areas. Suspension of installments of loans can created various socio-economic problems in Pakistan.
5. STAGNATION OF COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES IN KHYBAR PAKHTOON KHUA: The commercial activities in Khybar Pakhtoon Khua have gone down to the lowest limit due to which the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industries moved the application to declare the province 'war affected zone'. The chief of Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industries informed that 3,500 industrial units were functioning in 1995 which have now reduced to 600 only and the commercial activities have almost become stagnant.
6. DESTRUCTION OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: Educational institutions are also in the grip of terrorism in FATA and Swat area where 190 schools have so far been set to fire which has not only challenged the writ of the government but has also made the educational future dark there. Taliban have declared the educational activities for women a taboo and girls schools have been targeted in Swat. More than 42% of educational institutions have been destroyed due to which educational future of 150,000 students have become dark and uncertain making 8, 000 lady teachers unemployed.
7. EFFECTS ON FOREIGN DEVELOPMENT INVESTMENT: In accordance with the Harvard Study, the high level of terrorism risk is concerned with net FDI. The level of FDI has not only been decreased in Pakistan but the investment already made in past is now being withdrawn from here. In an integrated world economy where investment may be transferred or changed, foreign investment from Pakistan may be withdrawn. According to the report published by the State Bank of Pakistan, deteriorating law and order situation coupled with political instability has decreased the foreign investment in the country by 13%. Net foreign investment has gone down by $ 324 million.
8. DECAY OF SOFT IMAGE OF PAKISTAN: Current campaign against terrorism has badly affected the soft image of Pakistan. Various experts of international economics and marketing believe that 'soft image' is a cashable commodity. This image, no doubt, is attractive for FDI and makes the opportunities of joint venture bright. Soft image of a country encourages regional economic integration. The world in which we live is an interdependent and interrelated entity therefore regular incidences of terrorism and fundamentalism have given bad name to Pakistan in international community and markets. The current anti-state/government, sabotaging activities, target killing and street crimes are distorting the soft image of Pakistan.
SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM: The problem of terrorism neither can be solved from sky nor by land forces. For avoiding military and financial losses, Obama should leave the Bush's policies. Bilateral misunderstanding can be eliminated through dialogues based on mutual trust. Muslims should discourage activities of extremist groups they have adopted to solve the Kashmir and Palestine issue. Comprehensive, political, social, cultural, financial and diplomatic measures should be adopted. The causes and conditions which create and encourage terrorism should objectively be identified and addressed. National capability of reaching the terrorists and protection from them should be enhanced. Global consensus for short and long term measures may solve the problem. In addition to eliminate confusion about the definition of 'terrorism' the trend of labeling every Muslim a 'terrorist' should be left. Priority should be given to the civil liberties and principle of good governance in the war against terrorism. The sense and understanding should be created amongst the parties through dialogues at the global level that the cause of differences between different civilizations is not the difference of religion but are power, competitive political and economic interests, policies and misunderstanding. Summit Conference should be called at global level to address the problem of terrorism.
Let us pray and hope that our land may soon be free from terrorism and no bloodshed would revive in future.