Pakistan has always found itself standing at the forefront of major global events and international conflicts. The geopolitical location of Pakistan will always be relevant in the context of changing geopolitics, global shifts and the formulation of powerful international corridors and blocs. The importance of Pakistan in international politics and global dynamics will never lose its value whatsoever. While discussing Pakistan’s geo-political location one must keep in mind that Pakistan lies right in between South Asia, the greater Middle East and Central Asia. This gives Pakistan an ideal strategic position. Pakistan’s value will further increase after the complete development and function of the China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor CPEC. It will become a channel of connecting not just regional counties but continents in terms of trade and economy.
With such an important strategic location comes major consequences, challenges and security threats. After the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan became the front-line state against the “Global war on terrorism”. The American invasion of Afghanistan brought great challenges and security issues for Pakistan such as the creation of TTP and other militant groups that operated from Afghanistan and conducted their terror activities in Pakistan. Being a front-line state against the war on terror was not a choice for us. It was the result of regional geo-political changes, which Pakistan had to cope with, which we did – excellently.
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Pak Army and its impeccable achievements against terrorism
If it had not been the Pakistan army’s valor, determination and gallant response and initiatives in terms of countering terrorism, South Asia would’ve been a much more dangerous place to live in. The Pakistan army has over the years conducted multiple military operations inside the country and on the Pak-Afghan border areas. These military operations have been one of the most successful ones ever conducted at such a large scale. According to military experts counter-insurgency, especially urban warfare with a twist of 5th Generation warfare are the most difficult operations to conduct as the “enemy” is invisible. It is very difficult to distinguish the enemy from a civilian as they all seem to look alike.
Pakistan army has conducted these counter-insurgency operations with extreme precision with minimum collateral damage unlike the US army in Afghanistan where a large number of civilians have been killed by drone attacks and airstrikes. Some of the Pakistan army’s major military operations include Operation Sher Dil in Bajaur, Rah-e-Rast and Rah-e-Nijat in Swat. These successful military operations have helped the state restore her writ in these troubled areas. Pakistan army successfully eradicated terror outfits from Swat. By the end of 2013, North Waziristan became the hub of terror groups.
To eliminate them Pakistan army conducted further large-scale military operations such as Operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014, a series of Khyber operations and the ongoing military operation Radd-ul-Fasad which is being conducted country-wide. According to then COAS Gen Raheel Sharif Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a concept than an operation as it involved not merely the physical clearance of terrorists from the area but beating the extremist narrative with a normal counter-narrative nationwide as main objective.
According to Institute for Economics and Peace report titled “Global Terrorism Index 2020, Pakistan’s ranking regarding terrorism has improved from fifth (2019) to seventh (2020). In 2019 Pakistan recorded its lowest number of terror-related deaths since 2006. The Institute for Economics and Peace report indicates that since 2007, there is a 90% decline in terrorist incidents in Pakistan.
Economic loss due to terrorism
Since 9/11, Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism, losing over 80,000 lives, and incurring economic losses of around $ 102.5 billion along with serious damage to its cultural and religious ethos. In January 2018, outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump stated that Pakistan was given $ 33 billion for its help in the war on terror. However, Pakistan’s own expenses in the war on terror, including on infrastructure, were in excess of$ 200 billion.
Terrorism has affected economic growth by damaging infrastructure, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic savings, currency exchange rate and domestic capital formulation. The Pakistan army conducted military operations against the terrorists to flush them out. For security and civil relief operations up to the US $ 4 billion. In 2016-17 Pakistan’s economy suffered $5.47billion and $2.07 billion in 2017-18. The Pakistan government estimates that Pakistan has suffered total losses of $126.79 billion since the 9/11 attacks.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Pakistan’s tourism industry generates $20 Billion in revenue and supports 3.6 million jobs directly and indirectly. Also, keep in mind that foreign visitors generate a billion dollars, and terrorism nearly destroyed this industry in the last few years. But Pakistan’s stiff response and impeccable achievements against terror outfits have again given a boost to the tourism industry of Pakistan.
Heroes must not be forgotten
We must never forget our heroes who have laid their lives for this nation. Their bravery and the gallant response have saved many innocent lives. A young student named Shaheed Sher Shah Khattak is one of these heroes. During the Peshawar APS attack, Sher Shah Khattak preferred death to save his injured colleagues on December 16, 2014. According to his father Tufail Khattak “Sher Shah was my asset like a cash crop and his loss has broken my back. But the way he died has made me proud. I am proud to be the father of a brave and courageous boy like Sher Shah Shaheed”.
Another hero is a student named Waleed Khan. He is one of the survivors of the Army Public School attack. Waleed was only twelve years old when six terrorists attacked the school. The terrorists shot six bullets at him and after being unconscious for eight days he managed to survive. Today Waleed Khan advocates and encourages Pakistani students to gain education in order to fight terrorism.
Survive and Strive
The contribution and sacrifices of Pakistan must be appreciated and acknowledged by the whole world, especially the US. Pakistan is the only country that has won the war against terrorism single-handedly while others failed to do so. Pakistanis have sacrificed 80,000 innocent lives while fighting the curse of terrorism. In the end I would like to quote Gen Bajwa on his speech at Islamabad Security Dialogue; “Pakistan has been working towards all four aspects with unity of purpose and synchronization within the various components of national security. We had realized that unless our own house is in order, nothing good could be expected from outside.
Now, after having overpowered the menace of terrorism and the tide of extremism, we have begun to work towards sustainable development and improving the economic conditions of under-developed areas. Pakistan Army has contributed tremendously towards this national cause by rebuilding and mainstreaming some of the most neglected areas through massive development drives besides ensuring peace and security. Our long campaign against the tide of terrorism and extremism manifests our resolve and national will. We have come a long way and yet we are a bit short of our final objective but we are determined to stay the course.
The writer has a master’s degree in Mass Communication from the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad who often writes on geopolitics, international developments, and strategic affairs with a special focus on Af-Pak affairs, Asia, and the Middle East. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.