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Identifying Terrorism

Sagid KhanTerrorism is the menace of 21st century which has played havoc like an epidemic all over the world. Many countries are using it as a tool, proxies, to pursue their interest inside their country or on the other side of the border. Pakistan is one of the most affected countries along with the Arab countries, where spring changed into unwarranted autumn. Pakistan is busy after 9/11 to crush down this menace in every mean and way. Pakistan has lost eighty thousand people including civilians and security personnel along with the infrastructure of billions. Back in 2002 when it was reported that terrorists who have crossed the border area and busy in making their sanctuaries the then President Musharraf ordered security forces to move in to South Waziristan, FATA leaving the rest of the country unchecked.

The operations in FATA were carried out half heartedly but the peace agreements with full heart. The first peace agreement after Kalosha Opertation II, in April 2004 defined the future of FATA and the rest of the country. This was the statement of Nek Muhammad that, “I didn’t go to them but the Pakistani authorities came to my place”. During this time Pakistan was blamed that the State is double crossing the rest of the world in actions against terrorism. In coming years many instances proved this reality that till Swat Operation, 2009 Pakistan was not serious in tacking strapping actions against those who were challenging the writ of Pakistan. The first is book of late journo Syed Saleem Shehzad, Inside Al Qaeda and Taliban, that President Musharraf asked religious elites to shackle their horses because in coming few years US and NATO forces will leave the country. Second is the statement of ex President Musharraf that, “We created TTP to counter the Indian interests in Afghanistan”. Third in another statement in which he said that, “Baitullah and Fazalullah are our assets”.

After Pakistan turned back on Sectarian and Kashmiri groups then they started developing symbiotic relationship with Pakistan Taliban from where the term “Punjabi Taliban” started coining. In the result, this relationship provided umbrellas to one another to strike the foundations of Pakistan. Pakistan’s counter terrorism policy remained so passive that up to great extent just names of the radical groups were enlisted in the tables of banned groups, which is synonym to “yahan dobay wahan niklay” that they continued their activities with changed names.

Along with this, throughout the world one thing extremely went wrong, when extremism was identified with specific areas, ethnicities, and apparel. This was also exploited by media throughout the world. According to Trevor Noah, American based African comedian, when Charli Hebdo was attacked, “the media started brawling that a Muslim terrorist attacked Charli Hebdo although we all the time say that terrorism has no religion”. This is the sweeping statement that, “every Muslim is not a terrorist but every terrorist is Muslim”.

Same is our dilemma that most of the time we identify terrorist with Pashtun attire. It is true that most of the terrorist groups started evolving after Afghan Jihad back in 1980s mostly dominated by Pashtuns and rise of Al Qaeda. But after Safora Goth attack, attack on  Sabeen Mahmood, arresting of professors from different teaching institutes after the implementation of NAP shows that terrorism should not be identified with any ethnicity or field of life. Recently after Bacha Khan University attack, an advertisement was circulated in print and social media with insignias of Government of Pakistan and ISPR for the vigilance and safety of the citizens from terrorism activities and terrorists. In all the pictures people were showed with Pashtun dressing i.e. Pashtun hujra where they sit in circle, women in shuttle cock burqas entering the school, and same is the case with all pictures. In return this advertisement is circulating in social media with hateful captions that why Pashtuns are shown to be terrorists? I am hundred percent sure that this is not to sideline someone but rather to secure the citizens.

All this reminds me of one question which a student raised during Islamabad Literature Festival, 2015 and a statement made by a professor. First, during one of the sessions in Islamabad Literature Festival, 2015 which Naseem Zehara, a well known media person was moderating a girl asked that, “while Pashtun is the most affected all over the world from terrorism on both side of Pak-Afghan border but what are the reasons that we just identify terrorism with Pashtun ethnicity”? Nasim Zehra responded that I fully agree with you and we should condemn this approach. Second is the statement by a professor that, “Pashtuns always have to pass through a litmus paper for proving their loyalty towards the state of Pakistan”.

It should be the matter of concern for the authorities that what the side effects of this identification are. Are the contents in print and electronic media we are running in line of counter terrorism hurting individual or group sentiments? If yes then we should reconsider the image creating policies.

Writer: Sajid Khan 

The writer hails from South Waziristan Agency. He is pursuing M.Phil degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at National Defence University Islamabad. He is working as Education Youth Ambassador at Idar e Taleem o Agahi. He can be reached at



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