News Analysis |
Three terror suspects were shot dead by Pakistan Rangers in the early hours of Monday, the 26th of March. The paramilitary troops were carrying out a raid in Sakhi Sarwar town of the district Dera Ghazi Khan. When the suspects saw the troops, they opened fire. The rangers returned fire and shot the terrorists dead. One ranger was injured with gunshot wounds.
A remote controlled bomb, a suicide vest, some arms and ammunition were recovered at the site, according to sources. Pakistan’s security situation has improved drastically over the past few years. There was a period in Pakistan’s history when terror attacks were a weekly occurrence. Investors were leaving the country due to a constant threat of terror attacks.
The raid in Dera Ghazi Khan is a reminder that the threat of terrorism still lurks. Even though major urban center are not being attacked anymore the way they used to be, militants still hide out in remote areas.
Many businessmen were kidnapped for ransom by terror groups. Markets, schools, government functioning and virtually every aspect of Pakistani society were affected. Amidst chronic power outages and frequent terror attacks, many foreign and Indian analysts predicted that Pakistan may fail entirely as a state. Comparisons were being drawn between Pakistan and failed or failing states like Somalia and Afghanistan.
Other than terrorism and an energy crisis, the country also faced devastating floods and earthquakes, which damaged the economy even further. The separatist insurgency in Balochistan also ran parallel to all these problems. According to Maple Croft, Pakistan was once at ‘extreme risk’ to terror attacks, second only to Somalia. Now, however, normalcy has returned to the streets of all major cities in Pakistan. Citizens can go about their business without the fear of getting killed en route.
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Even though the US launched the War on Terror and has spent trillions of dollars since, to eliminate terrorism, it hasn’t had any considerable success. In Afghanistan, for instance, the Taliban control as much territory today as they did before 9/11. According to the American Foreign Policy Magazine, Pakistan is winning the war on terror. “Militants now face a more resolved and committed effort to eliminate them. [Pakistan] has quietly made some important, costly, and under-appreciated strides in its counter-militancy efforts.”
Similarly, a blog in the Spectator Magazine in the UK also argued that Pakistan is winning the war on terror. “Something extraordinary and unexpected has certainly happened. Since it fails to fit the established narrative of Pakistan as a dangerous nation, it’s gone unacknowledged in the West. Violence has not just dropped a bit. It is down by three quarters in the last two years. The country is safer than at any point since George W. Bush launched his war on terror 15 years ago.”
It is due to these successes that international cricket has returned to Pakistan. The PSL in Karachi had a huge emotional impact as well. Success in the reduction of violence does not mean, however, that the threat has been eliminated for good.
The Annual Security report by the Islamabad based Institute of Strategic Studies released this year showed that deaths and injuries caused by terrorism and militancy have fallen in Pakistan for the third straight year. Violence was reduced overall by 21% in 2017 as compared to 2016. It is the third year consecutively that violence-related fatalities in the country have continued to decline. Some 2,057 people were killed and 2,074 wounded for a total of 4,131 casualties over the year.
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That continued the trend from 2016, in which 2,613 people lost their lives due to violence and 1,714 were injured. In 2015, 4,647 people were killed and 1,927 injured, figures in the report show. These figures may still sound alarming to some. In order to gain some context, it’s useful to compare with figures from the US. In 2016, 38000 people died in the US due to gun-related violence. The reduction in violence, however, comes at a cost. According to the economic survey, Pakistan’s economy suffered losses of over $118 billion due to the war on terror.
At the same time, nearly 80,000 lives were lost, as per a body count report by Physicians for Social Responsibility. A series of military operations was launched to bring about some degree of peace and security in the country. Operation Al-Mizan was launched in 2002, the objective of which was to clear the area of militants, extremists and jihadists. International militants were targeted in particular in PATA and FATA regions. Operation Kalosha March was launched in 2004 in Wana, Operation Rah-e-Haq in 2007, Operation Sher Dil in 2008 and Operation Rah-e-Nijaat in 2009.
Violence has not just dropped a bit. It is down by three quarters in the last two years. The country is safer than at any point since George W. Bush launched his war on terror 15 years ago.”
More recently, Khyber 1 and Khyber 2 were launched and completed, after which the highly successful Zarb-e-Azab was launched. Operation Radul-Fasaad is still ongoing. Last month, three terrorists were gunned down during in IBO or Intelligence Based Operation in Dera Ghazi Khan, under operation Radul-Fasaad. It is due to these successes that international cricket has returned to Pakistan. The PSL in Karachi had a huge emotional impact as well. Success in the reduction of violence does not mean, however, that the threat has been eliminated for good.
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The raid in Dera Ghazi Khan is a reminder that the threat of terrorism still lurks. Even though major urban center are not being attacked anymore the way they used to be, militants still hide out in remote areas. It is likely that security forces will have to carry out more such raids in the near future as well. For the long haul, constant vigilance will ensure peace and security in the country.