Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan & Iranian Revolution: Root Causes of Terrorism in Pakistan 

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Syed Ijaz Ali Shah speaking at the seminar the police think tank Center for Policing and Security

(Asad Mirza – Lahore, Pakistan): – Senior police officers of the elite service organised a seminar on Counter Terrorism in Pakistan at Center for Policing and Security a think tank established for this specific purpose to study and analyse policing, crime and terrorism.

Speaking on the occasion, Syed Ijaz Ali key speaker said: “that the major causes of terrorism in Pakistan can be traced in the 1979 Iranian revolution, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the US invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11. During 1970s, there were no terrorists’ incidents in Pakistan, he added. According to him, terrorism has a cyclical nature as it comes with a momentum and does not occur overnight. This pattern is present across the globe. While explaining this cyclical pattern of terrorism he said that terrorists use hide and seek strategy, don’t want escalation all the time and cannot maintain a continued level of terrorist activities.”

Police seminar (2)

“The terrorists’ triangle completes with the absence of guardians and the easy availability of targets”, said Syed Ijaz Ali Shah, the keynote speaker in a seminar titled “Dynamics of terrorism: A case of Pakistan” organized by Center for Policing and Security in collaboration with Punjab Safe Cities Authority. The seminar was attended by DIG Dr. Moeen Masood, DIG Mr. Sultan sb, MD (PSCA) DIG Muhammad Amir, Chief implementation officer PSCA Akbar Nasir Khan, SSP investigation Lahore Ghulam Mubashir Maken, SSP Athar Ismail, CTO Lahore Rai Ejaz Ahmad, SSP Kamran Adil and many other prominent researchers, lawyers and civil society members. The Center for Policing and Security (CPS) has planned a series of seminars across the country to apprise the police practitioners, policy makers and civil society members about the strategies to tackle terrorism and extremism in the country.

He remarked that there are transnational, ethnic, sectarian, sub national and religious causes of terrorism in Pakistan. As these root causes are not addressed, so terrorists’ activities in Pakistan recur time and again. He added that terrorism in Pakistan has also a specific spatial pattern, i.e. the major cities of Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Quetta and Peshawar having more terrorist incidents than other cities. He said that as they have more symbolic value so terrorists target these cities. In the past, most of the terrorists’ incidents took place in conflict zones, i.e. Waziristan, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi. Terrorism is reactionary and dynamic and moves with conflict. As the conflict areas change so does the terrorists’ targets.

“Any source of stratification in a society may cause conflict, i.e. economic, religious, race, language, colour etc. If these sources of stratification are not addressed, they ultimately lead towards terrorism”. A total of 63% terrorists incidents in Pakistan are caused by Islamists, 23% by sub-national groups, 8% by ethnic groups and 6% by sectarian groups.  However, in all these terrorists’ incidents, the presence of a conflict is a root cause. Accordingly, external and internal events, geo-strategic reasons and super power interests also provide the necessary spark. In addition, lack of political process and the presence of militant ideology also provide impetus to the terrorists.

He proposed a five-point agenda to tackle terrorism in Pakistan. It includes countering terrorist ideology and extremism, reducing the grievances, increasing the capacity and motivation of law enforcement agencies, shielding and protecting targets and persuading, pursuing and punishing the terrorists. End

(Asad Mirza is a senior journalist and specialist in security, terrorism and policing matters based in Lahore)

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