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Terrorism in Pakistan: Not What You Think

A group of four respected academics have turned the prevailing wisdom on the source of Pakistani extremism on its head. They surveyed 6,000 Pakistanis in the provinces of Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, and the province formerly known as NWFP, now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on their attitudes toward the likes of al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and more. Here is what they found:

1. Survey participants held negative attitudes toward these extremist groups.

2. In the most violent regions and cities in Pakistan, especially in the former NWFP, this dislike was more pronounced.

3. Poor Pakistanis dislike extremist groups more than middle-class citizens. To put that another way, middle-class Pakistanis are more sympathetic to terrorist groups than their poorer countrymen. Interesting.

4. Poor Pakistanis in urban areas dislike the terrorist groups the most of any income and geographical group in the survey.

The urban poor hate the terrorists because terrorist attacks in Pakistan (and elsewhere) tend to occur in urban, poor neighborhoods. Being the target of attacks by your crazy countrymen will not inspire sympathy for the cause — as al-Qaeda in Iraq learned when Sunni Arabs turned from the terrorists to the Americans as they learned more about what terror is and does.

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  • JRR

    So, Pakistanis, rich and poor alike, hate terrorists; but somehow terrorists thrive – they seem to have a access to a solid support network to provide funds, arms, intelligence and protection. And who is a position to provide all this…the answer is ISI! No doubt the ISI can eliminate anyone they don’t like. The ISI obviously views terrorist network as “assets” it can deploy when needed –

  • Zubaida Nazeer

    Terrorism has haunted Pakistan more than any other country in the
    world. The fight against it has cost the lives of more than 5,000
    soldiers and 30,000 civilians. The Taliban and al Qaeda who have
    mounted most of these terrorist attacks say that they will continue to
    hit targets of their choosing. Barely a week passes without some
    deadly attack taking place. The Pakistan army and law enforcement
    agencies have been fighting the Taliban for several years and have
    diminished their numbers and capability. But there are still enough of
    them to pose a serious threat to the state and its good order. It is
    possible also that they are able to replenish their losses by
    recruiting young people coming out of the seminaries. What is to be
    done then? There are pockets of support for Taliban and al Qaeda
    within Pakistani society. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and
    Jaish-e-Mohammad share their ideological orientation. Opposition
    leaders and organs of civil society, notably the media barons, all
    condemn terrorism. But it is also said that while the army and the
    intelligence agencies at their higher levels want to liquidate
    terrorist organisations, some of their subordinates are sympathetic to
    them. They do not fully implement the orders to battle them. These
    functionaries need to be identified and removed. Certain elements
    within the Islamic parties and the PML-N also have a soft corner for
    the Taliban and like-minded groups. The party leaders concerned should
    ask such supporters to clean up their act or leave. Terrorism in
    Pakistan has assumed frightful proportions and it will not wither away
    nor disappear unless a ruthless and comprehensive campaign to abolish
    it is undertaken.

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