Resurgence of Terrorism in Pakistan

Pakistan has a tough and long history of terrorism, which dates back to the 1970s when Pakistan was involved in the Afghan Soviet War. During the Zia regime, Pakistan created the Mujahideen to counter the USSR. For this purpose, many madrasas were created in Pakistan, especially in Peshawar, and thousands of Mujahideen came to Afghanistan from all over the world to participate in the war. Pakistan has geographical proximity with Afghanistan, and due to this reason, these Mujahideen had to pass through Pakistan. Later on, these new Mujahideen even settled in Pakistan. 

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay 

The 2000s proved to be the most unstable and lethal time period for Pakistan in terms of terrorism. The Mujahideen who fought the war against the USSR in Afghanistan later became the Taliban. On September 11, 2001, these Taliban from Afghanistan committed a series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks in the United States, commonly known as the 9/11 attacks. 

The 9/11 attacks heavily damaged the United States. The United States soon started an investigation and gathered evidence to find out who was behind the 9/11 attacks. It came out that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attacks. Al Qaeda had its headquarters in Afghanistan, and it also had the support of the country’s ruling Taliban military. 

Due to the non-cooperative response of Afghanistan to the demand of handing over the Al-Qaeda leader to the US, the Bush administration decided to give a lesson to Al-Qaeda itself and along with its allies attacked Afghanistan. Before attacking Afghanistan, the US clearly asked Pakistan: who would Pakistan support? And that if Pakistan supports Afghanistan and al-Qaeda, the USA will send Pakistan back to the Stone Ages. This was the time when General Pervez Musharraf announced that Pakistan would combat terrorism and stand with the USA. 

The USA then attacked Afghanistan, and subsequently, many Taliban members left Afghanistan and dispersed in different areas of Pakistan. Since then, Pakistan has experienced numerous terrorist attacks; even the general headquarters was once attacked by the terrorists. In 2014, one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the history of Pakistan occurred when a Pakistani school in Peshawar was targeted by the Taliban and more than 140 children were killed. 

Following this attack in Peshawar, the Pakistani military launched an operation called "Zarb-e-Azab" in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where many terrorist groups had established safe havens. Zarb-e-Azab proved to be a milestone in the history of combating terrorism in Pakistan. In April 2017, the Pakistani government declared victory and the end of the operation. 

In 2021, the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, and the same year, Pakistan started facing a resurgence of violent attacks and the return of terrorism. Terrorist attacks of different magnitudes were observed all over Pakistan. 150 such attacks were recorded for the year 2022. The rise of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and continuous terrorist attacks in Pakistan pose a security nightmare for the country. Terrorist attacks have increased by 50% since August 2021, with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claiming responsibility for most of them. 

Pakistan has taken several measures to combat terrorism, including military operations. However, to effectively combat terrorism, Pakistan needs to address the root causes such as inadequate governance, poor government setup, low literacy, and declining law and order.

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