The emergence of Pakistan on the world map was not an end to the journey of struggle and sacrifices. It was just the beginning. Following its independence, the country faced a number of issues of alarming nature. Some of the main issues included the rehabilitation of refugees, unfair boundary distribution by the Radcliffe Commission, inequitable allocation of financial and military assets, shortage of government and military officials, lack of basic utilities, etc. In addition, Pakistan also had to deal with the illegal occupation of Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad Deccan by India.

Despite all these issues, Pakistan survived as a state to the surprise of many observers who thought that it will cease to exist as a separate entity in less than six months after independence. From being a vocal supporter for the people living under foreign occupation to becoming the sole nuclear-armed Muslim country, the country witnessed many ups and downs throughout the 70 years under both democratic and dictatorial leaderships.

Fast forward to 2006 and the first half of 2007, miscreants associated with Lal Masjid, one of the oldest mosques of Islamabad, involved themselves in violent demonstrations, destruction of property including setting fire to the Ministry of Environment building, kidnapping, arson and armed clashes with the authorities.

After repeated failed attempts of negotiating with Lal Masjid authorities to handover terrorists, Operation Sunrise was launched to decimate the miscreants holed up in Lal Masjid in July 2007. The operation resulted in successfully securing the mosque by killing more than 100 militants. 11 armed forces personnel lost their lives in the eight-day military operation.

However, the inability to present clear picture about the scenario allowed the propagandists to spread their distorted version of events related to the military operation. Consequently, the highly successful military operation was turned into a PR disaster due to the inability of government and media. The version propagated by the propagandists created an atmosphere that resulted in creating support for Takfiri ideology, an ideology that accuses another Muslim of apostasy or declaring other Muslims as an infidel, and the groups that propagate such ideology like Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

The Lal Masjid operation had been used as a source to rally support against Pakistani government and military. Ghazi Force, comprising of relatives of militants killed in Operation Sunrise, birthed out of this ordeal was responsible for several high-profile attacks. Nearly 1200 people were killed, and more than 3200 were wounded in the first year following the Lal Masjid Operation alone. The Lal Masjid event also inspired various Taliban groups to unite under the banner of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in December 2007. By 2008, the TTP were virtually controlling all seven agencies of Federal Administrated Tribal Areas and had expanded their area of influence to a large part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In the following years, terrorists continued to create havoc all across Pakistan. More than 87,000 Pakistanis either lost their lives or were injured due to terrorism. The economic losses amount to more than $123 billion. The country was unable to host high-profile events including 2011 Cricket World Cup. It was predicted that Pakistan will become a failed state by 2015.

Amidst these troubling developments, the state of Pakistan responded by launching a number of military operations in the tribal areas to counter the terror outfits. Through these military operations, the Pakistani security forces were successful in uprooting the infrastructure of terror groups. Since 2008, more than 31,200 terrorists have been killed. Almost all tribal areas have been cleansed of terrorists. These days, Pakistani security forces are busy in clearing Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency from terrorists as part of Operation Khyber-4 which has been launched under the banner of Operation Radd-ul-Fasad.

Apart from tribal areas, the security forces have made progress in restoring back peace in Balochistan and Karachi. The Sindh Rangers-led operation in Karachi has played a considerable role in reducing heinous crimes. The metropolis has witnessed decrease in terror incidents by 98%, target killing by 97%, extortion by 96% and kidnapping by 96%. In Balochistan, separatist groups have been weakened by infightings and a number of counter-terrorism operations. More than 2300 separatists have surrendered under the organized efforts of the provincial government to bring those who have capitulated into the national mainstream.

Despite the achievements in countering the menace, more work still need to be done. Drafting a counter-terror narrative is an important task that needs to be addressed. A well-defined counter-terror narrative can help in curtailing the atmosphere that allows people to get inclined towards terrorism. Strong anti-terror legislations also needed to be drafted which could facilitate in speeding up the process of prosecuting hard-core terrorists.

In almost a decade, Pakistan has been successful in countering the menace of terrorism to a great extent. Having faced several obstacles, Pakistan is still functioning as a stable state with a defined governance structure. In the last 70 years, Pakistan witnessed a number of hindrances that tried to block its way towards prosperity and development. However, the Pakistani nation bravely fought these challenges and survived the most terror-stricken period the country has faced in its history.

Restoration of law and order resulted in the initiation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is bound to change the economic landscape of the country. Coupled with better governance and supremacy of law, the CPEC will shape Pakistan as a role model state that will remain intact despite having faced issues that put the survival of the country at stake.

Fahad Nabeel

Fahad Nabeel is an independent researcher, and he tweets @fahadnabeelfn

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