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Pakistan Winning the Fight against Terrorism

  • KHAN HASHAM BIN SADDIQUE
  • Jan, 2018
  • 344
  • Defence

In the words of British Field Army Commander Lieutenant General Patrick Nichols Sanders “Pakistan has made breathtaking gains against terrorists and extremists in Tribal areas, unmatched in over 150 years, and deserves credit for that"

Every year Pakistan celebrates the defense of Pakistan day commemorating the valiance and sacrifice of its armed forces in the face of naked aggression against Pakistan in September 1965. Indeed, the success of Pakistan's young armed forces 52 years ago, against an opponent three times its size, merits remembrance. Yet, this year, there was a more compelling argument to observe and rejoice the defense of Pakistan day. It was the achievement of Pakistan's armed forces and the nation against a more complex and devious threat - terrorism.

Armed forces are trained to fight conventional threats against uniformed opposition forces. To fight a surreptitious and indistinguishable enemy is a much more complex task requiring special training and set of skills. Pakistan armed forces have however been uniquely successful in fighting terrorists - a task at which relatively more advanced and equipped armed forces around the world have been found wanting. In the words of British Field Army Commander Lieutenant General Patrick Nichols Sanders "Pakistan has made breathtaking gains against terrorists and extremists in Tribal areas, unmatched in over 150 years, and deserves credit for that."

Pakistan's response to terrorism was grand and resolute. Pakistan armed forces launched the largest-ever counterterrorism operation in the world - Operation Zarb-e-Azab. In two years of its operation, the Operation involved military offensives as well we over 19000 Intelligence Based Operations (IBO) in which more than 3500 terrorists were cleared and 2000 arrested. Moreover hundreds of hideouts and IED making units were destroyed.

As Pakistan assumed the frontline role in the fight against terrorism, it also became the principal target of terrorists. The world still recalls with grief and somber the terrorist attack in a Peshawar school in 2014, where children of Pakistan armed forces received education. Confronted with the challenge posed by the brave men of Pakistan armed forces and law enforcement agencies, the terrorists had cowardly chosen a soft target - their families and children - aiming to dent their morale.

The fresh operation against the terrorists was globally acknowledged as the results spoke for themselves. The number of terrorist attacks that numbered close to 100 per month in February 2013 dropped to less than ten by the end of 2015. Following data shows the situation before and after the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azab:

Terrorist attacks in Pakistan (approximate figures)

January 2013-65 || 2015-8

February 2013-80 || 2015-18

March 2013-40 || 2015-25

April 2013-65 || 2015-12

Source: Report of the Risk Advisory Group 2015

The impact of the Operation in terms of security generated for the people of Pakistan was immense. It is evident from the data depicting the loss of lives, both civilians and of security personnel in the past six years:

Lives Lost in  Terrorist attacks

Year-2012 || Civilian-3007 || Security Personnel 732

Year-2013 || Civilian-3001 || Security Personnel 676

Year-2014 || Civilian-1781 || Security Personnel 533

Year-2015 || Civilian-940 || Security Personnel 339

Year-2016 || Civilian-612 || Security Personnel 293

2017 (till 17 September) || Civilian-421 || Security Personnel -158

Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal

As is also evident, the successes have not come easily for Pakistan. In the past two decades, more than 70,000 lives have been lost, including those of armed forces and security personnel. The direct and indirect economic losses exceed more than USD 120 Billion. Juxtaposing the loss against the resolute efforts and resultant successes of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, no country in the world matches Pakistan's continued resilience and commitment to the cause.

Pakistan's successes on ground against terrorists have been backed by a whole of government approach, reflected in its comprehensive National Action Plan to counterterrorism. The NAP involves 20 work streams that range from countering the financing of terrorism, defeating the terrorist narrative and propaganda, cutting their support from abroad, as well as programs aimed at poverty reduction and development.

Knowing fully well that terrorism is a transnational threat and, therefore, requires robust r...

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