War against Terrorism and its impact on Pakistani masses
Terrorism is considered by some to be a form of war but without the rules of conventional conflict. Terrorism has existed for centuries as a means of making a government or group aware of a desire that they have to change something by creating destruction and fear. However, this terrorism had taken a new level from September 2001.
The United States asked Afghanistan to handover Osama Bin Laden (a suspect in these attacks) but Afghanistan refused to do so. Pakistan’s geographical proximity with the Afghanistan brought it into the limelight. Unites States had chosen Pakistan for logistics, intelligence support, bases for operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan provided its all out support to the coalition forces against the Taliban regime.
After the US attack, flux compelled people of Afghanistan to get refuge in Pakistan; they have centuries old linkages with Pakistani tribal areas and here they moved freely. In this backdrop, Taliban and some Al-Qaeda remnants also found refuge in these areas. This was the starting point of dark ages for Pakistan
Impact on Pakistani Masses:
Ever since the Pakistan ventured with America into their war against terrorism, entered into a dilemma. Pakistan proved to be pivotal for the United States in war against terrorism.
“Pivotal States are those countries which have potential influence significant or harmful effects on their region”
In coming paragraphs what impact this war against terrorism laid on Pakistani masses will be discussed briefly.
The international war against terrorism has caused more agony, deaths and destruction to the people of Pakistan than any other country of this world. There have been numerous incidents of civilian casualties because of the army’s operations and increased attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), missile-equipped Predator or Drones, operated by the CIA and the U.S. military in Pakistan Northern areas, for seeking to uproot the alleged al-Qaeda elements operating there.
Operations named Rah-e-Rast in Swat and Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan started in May 2009 and June 2009 respectively, to clean up these areas from terrorists and militants with the widespread support of nation. At beginning, they faced many problems, “We were utterly oblivious of the presence of Taliban in certain areas where they were hiding. They were enormous in number and chose different populated areas for hide out and we had to operate in different areas at one time”, said Safdar Ali, a military person who fought against militants in operation Rah-e-Rast, “Moreover, people were also not cooperating in vacating their areas because of the fear of Taliban.”
The Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy (AIRRA) conducted a survey in which they asked to people about collateral damage in FATA. The people said that most of the attacks hit their targets but there is some collateral damage; as the families forced to rent out the property, is living in an adjacent portion of the property rented out. In order to prove their loyalty to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, because of the fear that they will execute them, they allowed them to use their houses and hujras for residential purposes.
Moreover, Taliban visits the houses whose head person has linked with them, and stay there as guests. The drones hit there, kills women and small children of the hosts, those who have no role in the men’s links with terrorists. Other innocent victims are local people who just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
When this war started, a point aroused in people’s mind that who will be consider as martyr as both Taliban and Pak army are Muslims? “It’s up to people to decide if Taliban are Muslims”, Mr. Ali proclaimed, “Is this Islam to kill innocent people? Is this Islam to slaughter people? Is this Islam to destroy schools? Is this Islam to blow up Masjids? Of course not! There is nowhere in Islam to kill innocent people. This is not jihad. We do not call them Muslims; they are traitors and a major threat to Pakistan. This is our duty to eliminate the parasites that are trying to eaten up our country from inside at any cost before they succeed in their mission and destroy Pakistan. Soldiers are dying for the sovereignty of the state.” Since 2004, about 2000 soldiers were get death in martyrdom in this War against terrorism.
The operations are long enough and the human cost is painful and devastating. The people of both areas are affected in every aspect. They lost their homes as Taliban captured so many houses and were destroyed.
People had to leave their houses and live in other places, which also affected them financially. According to Govt. sources, 328456 IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) were registered from Swat. “However, there were 1.3 million people displaced (in the northwest) who still need assistance”, Mr. Ali said. The latest in the wave of such incidents has been the virtual destruction of the town of Spinkai in South Waziristan by the Pakistan Army’s 14th Division, resulting in the displacement of over 200,000 people (Dawn [Karachi], May 10).
Education is affected also up to a high level as extremists destroyed so many schools and colleges. Students are still facing problems that will take time to solve. Out of 1,576 schools in Swat, the United Nations says 175 were destroyed and 226 damaged. Under army supervision, schools are being repaired but none of those razed has been rebuilt.
The major threat to the people of swat is that the tourism is highly affected as it was the only major way of income for the people of swat. All the big investors sold their properties and have shifted their businesses to other cities. Now because of security reasons foreigners and even citizens of Pakistan are afraid to visit swat. Mr. Tahir Rasheed, National Trade and Logistic Manager, Abbott Pakistan Limited said that, “It is really difficult to go there as in security checking, they takes such a time that the area in which we need 15 minutes to reach in past, now we reach in 1 hour.”
Moreover, the Hospitals lack equipment, specialized surgical staff, and beds, updated X-ray and CT scanners, ventilators and a defibrillator. Right now, the donors’ response is also very poor.
Lt General (retd) Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, a former military commander in the tribal areas and former governor of NWFP and FATA said that, “ when the so-called war on terror began, there were about 1,500 militant Talibans, but their number has swelled and their movement is gaining strength and has, in fact, “snowballed”. The scrooge of terrorism is not only affected the lives of northern people but also touching everyone’s life. The successive suicide attacks in the multiple cities have thrown the country into the pool of despair and misery. Since 2004 to late 2009, more than 5,500 people were killed in suicide and other attacks on civilians.
Hundreds of people were detained in Pakistan after 9/11, and some of them ended up in the U.S. naval prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The problem of disappearances of people in Pakistan is among the highest numbers of such cases in Asia. The Asian Human Rights Commission has frequently brought this problem before Pakistani authorities and international communities but not any initiative has been taken yet.
There are reports of more than 4000 persons being missing from the Balochistan province, after their arrest by the plain clothed persons from the state intelligence agencies. However, the nationalist group claim that around 8000 persons are missing. On the other hand, chief minister of Balochistan has issued a list of 1100 missing persons. Political groups of Balochistan have reported that out of the 4,000 supposedly arrested, not more than 200 have been brought to trial in courts and the remainder are unaccounted for, out of the reach of their relatives or lawyers.
The government of Pakistan through its attorney general submitted a list of 1600 persons missing since 2005.
In the Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa, more than 1000 persons are missing including some officers from Pakistani army. Over 168 children and 148 women are also missing and their names are in the official lists. The case of Zarina Baloch is worth mentioning as she was used as a sex slave in the military torture cell in Karachi, Sindh province. The nationalist forces of Sindh province claim that about 100 persons have been vanished; the same position is of Punjab province where more than 200 persons are disappeared after their arrests.
NGOs have estimated that during the current civilian government around 100 persons have gone missing after their arrest; the Supreme Court itself has more than 400 cases of disappeared persons pending. Though statistics may vary, the size of the problem is beyond dispute.
War against Terrorism and its impact on Pakistani masses