Understanding the Terrorist Threat in Pakistan
Paper presented at national workshop on 'Pakistan’s Responses to Terrorism,’ organized by the Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar, in collaboration with the Hanns-Seidel Foundation, Peshawar, March 25-26, 2010.
Although terrorism has been the main problem and its victims have been common Pakistanis in recent years, it remains a very controversial issue in the country. Unlike Pakistan, societies elsewhere were quick to evolve near-consensus regarding the enormity of the threat terrorism poses and the steps the government should take to combat it effectively. However, it is only recently that in Pakistan the perceptual gap about the threat of terrorism and counter-terrorism strategy between the state and society has started to narrow down. It is true that terrorism is one form of politically-motivated violence; it is such an emotive and sensitive issue that attempts to define it would raise controversies the world over. It may not be possible to achieve complete consensus across the world regarding the threat terrorism poses and the ways to combat it. Therefore, Pakistan should not be treated as an exception in this regard. Yet in Pakistan’s case, the situation has been more worrisome at least until recently when the gap between state policy and public perceptions regarding terrorism was dangerously wide. Indubitably there is a historical context that why such gap existed for so long in Pakistan and why an unprecedented terrorist spree continues to occur across the country since the last few years. Full Text