Why terrorism in Pakistan is seen indifferently by outside world?


“In post Cherlie Hebdo incident of January 07, 2015 where twelve persons were killed, eighty-three states from Albania to Vietnam condemned the attack[1]. Five major international organisations from OIC to United Nations expressed solidarity with the victims[2]. More than thirty heads of the states of all races, religions and colours participated in an open rally on the streets of Paris to say that they were against terrorism[3]. This was all possible due to opinion expressed by thousands of people who came out on same day of attacks to condemn the incident by their active but peaceful gathering. As it was an attack on journalists so world press was also united and some called it an attack on western civilization[4]. Anti Pakistan lobbies do not miss any chance to malign Pakistan. Fareed Zakriya, an Indian born American journalist said that Pakistani Prime Minister has not condemned the attack, as he should have[5]. However, it was not all that neat. Some fifty cases were registered where Muslims in France were attacked merely due to their faith[6].

When 9/11 took place, urgency was created. NCTC and Homeland Security were the outcome of hectic exercises to develop a response mechanism. In UK, India, Canada and many other countries reviewed their contingency plans and started capacity building programs of civilian and military institutions. Contrary to this, attack on APS Peshawar on December 16, 2014 did not generate same response despite hundred and fifty nine casualties, most of them children. There were very few public demonstrations in the country. Sixty three states issued statements. Nationally all political parties condemned the incident and a consensus seemed to emerge against terrorism. Even Al Qaida and Afghan Taliban condemned the attack on innocent children[7]. However, the momentum built by media and action promised by the government were not realised due to poor implementation. Delays in implementation of NAP and ambivalence to take dangerous yet decisive actions by LEAs are diluting the intent behind NAP. Divergent interests of the state institutions preventing integrated response. Moreover, due to past policies of the state and poor governance, Pakistan does not enjoy good reputation in the international community for fighting against terrorism.

However, internationally, terrorism is not the biggest reason of human fatalities. Diseases and traffic incidents cause more casualties than terrorism in conflict free zones[8]. Some experts believe that real reason of exaggeration of terrorist threats has more to do with domestic politics than with the true level of danger. ‘Whenever a terrorist incident occurs, politicians are quick to accuse incumbents of failing to do enough to prevent such actions’[9]. ‘And the media has every reason to join the chorus of doom and gloom: Even a small terrorist incident gets lots of people watching, listening, or reading online, especially when it occurs in Paris, London, or some other Western city’[10]. If seen through this lens, Charlie Hebdo incident response is somewhat exaggerated and it helps the terrorists to expand the war and recruit more people into their cause.

There are some differences in pre-incident and post-incident situations in Pakistan and rest of the world. Consider the Charlie Hebdo case or very recent Chapel Hill shooting in North Carolina USA where three Muslims are being killed by one person[11]. In post incident scenario, firstly, police deployment is adequate and professional handling of crime scene in visible through controlled access granted to Media. Media handling of Police is skilful and images of crime scene are not available for every one. This helps in minimising the visibility of destruction, which is highly desired by the terrorists but not by the state as it affects the morale of forces and the public.

Secondly, pre-incident work done by law enforcement and intelligence agencies helps them in timely investigation and identification of the suspects. This rapid analysis and identification of the culprits restores the confidence of the public on their security apparatus. This also results in shifting the focus from victims to accused and people come forward to help the LEAs to achieve their target. Urgency is created and all efforts are integrated to book the criminals. However, the cooperation by public depends upon relationship of between the LEAs and the public cultivated by service delivery rather for transactional motives to solve the crime riddle.

Thirdly, in almost all cases, civilian law enforcement officers come forward and nowhere intelligence agencies or military unduly interact with Media. Similarly, Special armed forces or Gendarmerie are deployed for a short time to demonstrate people highest level of security as confidence building measure but they are not called in for longer terms for strategic reasons. Media handling by only LEAs prevents contradictory information provided by various agencies.

Fourthly, threat assessments for local and foreign population, media and dignitaries are also issued to regulate their movements and share information. In Pakistan there is lack of timely coordination and cooperation with local and foreign media. For this information, foreign diplomats and police advisors cultivate relationships with intelligence agencies to remain informed about potential threats or develop their in house programs for coming to such conclusions.

Most of the time, one terrorist group or the other accepts responsibility of attack. In addition most common modus operandi is suicide attack. Therefore, terrorist is also wiped out in the incident. So identification issue is over. No action or slow action taken against the network of terrorists results in mounting mistrust of the people against the state institutions particularly Police and politicians – the easy targets. It is also true that international Media and opinion makers has a negative bias against Pakistan and security institutions.

Hence, due to poor Media engagement strategy, slow action by Police and over action by Army and Rangers, remains on the wrong side of the media and they create sensation for their business development. Lack of political stability and ambivalent stance on terrorism and past history of terrorism incidents give anti Pakistan lobbyists reasons to sharpen their criticism. Even in cases where there are no links of Pakistan they find grounds to attack Pakistan for their mercantile interests and ideological leanings.

‘In other words, the keys to success are not bellicose speeches, mass marches, wars on terror, or continued military interventions throughout the [country]. The key is calm resolution and conscious efforts to build resiliency at home. Tragedies will occur from time to time, but they cannot alter our way of life unless we allow them to do so. Terrorists of all sorts remain too weak to impose their will upon us, which means we always have the freedom to decide how to react to the danger they pose. We will be fools indeed if we allow the modest threat they pose to scare us into doing something foolish or, worse still, into abandoning the core principles of a free society’[12]. Core principles of a pluralistic society of Pakistan are rule of law, equality and justice for all.”

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reactions_to_the_Charlie_Hebdo_shooting

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reactions_to_the_Charlie_Hebdo_shooting

[3] Unity Rally for Paris Shootings, Jan 11, 2015 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11329976/Paris-Charlie-Hebdo-attack-live.html

[4] BBC News January 08, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-30724226

[5] Fareed Zakriay on Paris Attacks, F. World, Jan 09, 2015 http://www.firstpost.com/world/fareed-zakaria-on-paris-attack-unfortunate-that-leaders-of-muslim-nations-did-not-condemn-charlie-hebdo-shooting-2039133.html

[6] RT News, January 13, 2015, http://rt.com/news/221995-france-anti-muslim-incidents/

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactions_to_the_2014_Peshawar_school_massacre

[8] Conflict affected zones include Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Libya

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactions_to_the_2014_Peshawar_school_massacre

[10] Walt, Stephan, Think before you March, Foreign Policy, January 16, 2015 http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/16/think-before-you-march-charlie-hebdo-islamist-terrorism/

[11] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/chapel-hill-shooting-three-young-muslims-gunned-down-in-north-carolina-at-their-family-home-10037734.html

[12] Walt, Stephan, Think before you March, Foreign Policy, January 16, 2015 http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/16/think-before-you-march-charlie-hebdo-islamist-terrorism/ “

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *