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Pakistans Counter-terrorism Strategy

An Overview of Terrorism in 2010:

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10 percent decrease in terrorist activities as compared to 2009. Effective military campaign Increased surveillance by LEAs Killing/capture of top terrorists Decrease in terrorist activities in KPK and FATA and increase in urban terrorism. World Justice Project ( WJP) Rule of Law Index 2010.
( Report, Pakistan Security Report, Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, January, 2011)

Main Aspects of Pakistans Counterterrorism Strategy:




Pakistans Counter-terrorism Strategy lays an emphasis on the military approach. The military has a four-tier approach : Clear, Hold, Develop, Disintegrate. The militarys approach includes destroying unfriendly groups before attending to others. Also a willingness to talk to militant groups that are reconcilable.
( Ayesha Siddiqua, Pakistans Counter-terrorism Strategy: Seperating Friends from Enemies, The Washington Quarterly, 34:1,pg 144, New York: Pluto Press,2007)

34:1 pp. 149


Pakistan has its own definition of good and bad Taliban. There are extremist groups that are beyond the pale with which the ISI has no influence at all. Those are the ones they go after.
(Jayshree Bajoria, Eben Kaplan, The ISI and Terrorism: Behind the Accusations, Council On foreign Affairs, May 4, 2011.)



Difficulties due to natural catastrophes. Reversal of Pakistans Counter-terrorism Strategy.

Pakistans National Counterterrorism Policy,2008

Review of Pakistans National Security Strategy. Dealing with militancy and extremism through dialogue with genuine stake holders. The Pakistan Nation is united in its resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism. Pakistans sovereignty and territorial integrity shall be safeguarded. Pakistans territory shall not be used against attacks on any other country. Dialogue will be considered as the principal instrument for conflict management and resolution. More development in Tribal areas and NWFP. A political Dialogue will be initiated to redress their grievances.

State shall maintain the rule of Law to protect civilian lives and caution will be taken to avoid casualties of non-combatants. Democratic Pluralism, Social Justice, religious tolerance equitable resource-sharing between provinces will be encouraged and undertaken. The State shall establish its writ in troubled zones through CBMs and by using local communities such as Jirga. The military will be replaced as soon as possible by Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies. Pakistans strategic assets will be protected by developing stakes in regional peace. Spill over effects of terrorism will be contained by a number of ways. A special Committee of Parliament will be constituted to periodically review, provide guidelines and monitor the implementation of this resolution.
( National Counter-terrorism Policy, National Crisis Management Cell, Archives, Ministry of Interior, Islamabad.)

Pakistans efforts for Counterterrorism:

A ban on the display of weapons throughout the country The promulgation of the Anti Terrorism Act (1997) The banning of Sectarian Organizations (2002) Integration of many key Madaris into the main national education system.(2002
(APP, Pakistan madrass reforms in tatters, Daily Times, July17,2009)

Establishment of a Crisis Management Cell.

Police reforms:

Police Order 2002 lays down the following reforms (i) It redefines in clear terms the role and responsibilities of the police. (ii) It seeks to improve human security and access to justice within the ambit of rule of law. (iii) It phases out obsolete police management practices. (iv) It provides for enhancing police professionalism. (v) It introduces new powers to improve police discipline. (vi) It strengthens external police accountability through institutionalized civil society oversight. (vii) It aims to transform the police into a public-friendly service-delivery organization. (viii) It makes it obligatory for the government to establish police-public consultative committees.
( Sumaira Batool, Police Reform Efforts In Pakistan, Police Order, April 4,2011 retreived from

Extradition of foreign students from Madaris Proscription of sectarian militants and Jihadi organizations Computerized registration of small arms licenses by NADRA. (APP, Arms Licenses Computerization: Right Step
to Check Crimes, Pakistan Observer, Sep 25, 2011)

Organization of religious debates: Under the PIPS auspices, a team of prominent scholars representing all the sects in Pakistan have launched a comprehensive programme commencing on August, 2011. National De-Radicalization Conference: The conference was organized in Swat in July, 2011. Its purpose was to highlight the Governments efforts in de-radicalization of terrorists apprehended in Operation Rah e- Raast in 2009. Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Kiyani stated on the occasion that There is no military solution to terrorism

(Kirsten Seymour, De-radicalisation: Psychologists War Against Terrorists, Express Tribune, July 17, 2011.)

Terrorist Arrests:
In 2010, Law enforcement agencies arrested a total of 10, 161 suspected militants across the country. Key Afghan Taliban Senior Al-Qaeda members Prominent TTP members
( Report, Pakistan Security Report, Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, January, 2011)

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TTP and other Taliban groups ____________ 8,863 Al-Qaeda operatives Afghan Taliban Jundullah Lashkar-e-Jhangvi SSP Balouch Insurgent groups Other banned Outfits ____________ 50 ____________ 288 _____________ 18 _____________ 147 _____________ 108 _____________ 112 _____________ 446

Search operations: The security forces carried out a total of 435 search operations across the country in 2010, including 217 in KPK, 135 in FATA, 25 in Punjab and 30 in Balochistan and recovered stolen NATO goods explosives, suicide jackets and weapons. Enhancement Capacity of Law Enforcement Agencies: Installation of CCTVs at sensitive areas. Up gradation of paramilitary Levies Forces in tribal areas.
( Report, Pakistan Security Report, Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, January, 2011)

Criticism Of Pakistans Counterterrorism Strategy :

Pakistan lacks a comprehensive Counter-terrorism strategy. Present strategy deals with superficial issues of terrorism and not its root causes.( Triple D approach) An over-emphasis on the military approach. Lack of political will to curb terrorism. Slow and conservative approach; allowing terrorist sanctuaries and even continued recruitment and training of terrorists in remote areas.
( Muhammad Amir Rana, Intellectual Response, Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, August 23, 2011. Retrieved from

Lack of high security prisons for high value targets. Ineffectiveness of police in combating terrorism.

Contradictions in Pakistans Counter-terrorism Strategy.

At best, the policy illustrates the tensions between Islamabads need to protect itself against an internal enemy and its sensitivity towards the external threat of India

( Umer Cheema, Despite DCC, no Anti-terror Policy on the horizon, News, May 27, 2011.)

Charges of duplicity against Pakistan:

"It is critical that the government of Pakistan break any links they have, and take strong and immediate action against this network so that they are no longer a threat to the United States or to the people of Pakistan, because this network is a threat to both," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
( Qasim Nauman and Missy Ryan, Pakistan warns U.S.: "You will lose an ally, Reuters, Sep 23, 2011.)

Obama to Cong: Pak counter-terror measures not effective( October 2, 2011)

Pakistan has moved from "remaining static" to "decline" to "negative trends" in one of the key indicators and metrics of "Pakistan's efforts in counterterrorism operations" as developed by the Obama administration. Pakistan's counter-terrorism measures have failed to yield results this year with insurgent activities gaining ground and operational situation facing the military there continuing to deteriorate.

( Report, Obama to Cong: Pak counter-terror measures not effective, The Economic Times, October 2, 2011, retrieved from

Challenges to Pakistans Security:

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Critical Internal Threats: Sectarian Violence Changing tactics and targets by terrorists Growing radicalization Nexus between terrorists and criminals Critical Regional Issues: Pak-Iran relations Pak-India relations Pak- Afghanistan relations Pak-US relation
( Report, Pakistan Security Report, Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, January, 2011)

US Counter-terrorism Strategy:
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Four key elements of US policy regarding counterterrorism. Making no concessions to terrorists and striking no deals. Bringing terrorists to justice. Isolating and applying pressure on state sponsors of terrorism. Bolstering counter-terrorism capabilities of states that work with the US.
Doron Zimmermann and Andeas, How States Fight Terrorism: Policy Dynamics in the West, ( New Delhi: Vinod Vashishta, 2008) pg 139.

Bush Doctrine of Pre-emptive Strike: This policy shifted American strategy from its traditional deterrence and containment approach towards a more pro-active and aggressive disposition.
Yonah Alexander, Counter-terrorism Strategies: Successes and Failures of Six Nations, (New York: Potomac books, 2006) 112.

Operation Enduring freedom in Afghanistan marked the emergence of preemption as a tool for disrupting or destroying terrorist entities Operation Iraqi Freedom launched in 2003 was justified in part to break the nexus between the regime of saddam hussain and international terrorists intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction
Doron Zimmerman and Andreas Wenger, How States fight terrorism: Policy Dynamics in the West, (New Delhi:Vinod Vashishta, 2008) pg 139.

National Security Strategy ( March 15, 2006):

Pre-emptive strike is still proclaimed. There is a need to focus on the war of ideas and to expand human rights and democratic infrastructure. This is the first counterterrorism strategy that focuses on the ability of Al Qaeda and its networks to inspire people in the United States to attack us from within, said John Brennan. Zeroing on senior leadership of the organization. Enhanced Cooperation with allies. Sustained effort to restore Americas image in the world.
( Howard LaFranchi,, US unveils new counterterrorism strategy: three key parts, Christian Science Monitor June 29, 2011)

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4. Denying terrorists access to money, sanctuary, weapons and other resources including material that can be used to fabricate WMD. 5. Cooperating with willing and able states, assisting willing but weak states, pressuring reluctant states and compelling uncooperative states. 6. Diminishing poverty and other conditions that terrorists exploit. 7. Delegitimizing terrorism as a tool of state craft and an instrument of non-state actors. 8. Defending the US homeland through improved border control, intelligence and other means. 9. while the US wishes to work in cooperation with other states to counter terrorism, it will not hesitate to act alone when necessary. (Doron Zimmerman and Andreas Wenger, How States fight
terrorism: Policy Dynamics in the West, (New Delhi:Vinod
Vashishta, 2008) pg 139).

Major Tools in the US Counter-terrorism Repertoire: Military Intelligence Law enforcement Financing Public diplomacy

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(Doron Zimmerman and Andreas Wenger, How States fight terrorism: Policy Dynamics in the West, (New Delhi: Vinod Vashishta, 2008) pg 139.

Sri Lankas Counter-terrorism Strategy:

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Understanding the conflict

Ethnic Divide Sinhala Only Act (1956) Rise of LTTE. Indian Involvement
( Asoka Bandarage, The seperatist Conflict in SriLanka : Terrorism, ethnicity, political economy, New York: Routledge, 2009, pg 88.)


Counter-terrorism Efforts: The Sri Lankan Approach that succeeded in defeating the LTTE was the result of learning from years of fighting insurgency, strong political will and harnessing popular support
(Seminar on Defeating Terrorism : SriLankan Experience. Colombo, May 31 to June 2, 2011.)

While the Sinhalese community favoured an all out war on terrorism, but the government faced the unenviable task of allocating money for war and also maintaining a positive image internationally in the face of the intense propaganda globally by the LTTE
( Asoka Bandarage, The seperatist Conflict in SriLanka : Terrorism, ethnicity, political economy, New York: Routledge, 2009, pg 88.)

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Political Efforts and negotiations:

APC in Colombo, Sri Lanka (January 1984) Talks in Thimpu, Bhutan: India-Sri Lanka Agreement (1987) International Mediation and Ceasefire (2001) National Advisory Council for Peace and Reconciliation. ( October 2004) Tsunami and revival of hope. (December 26, 2004)
( Mahwish Hafeez, Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka: A scar on the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Strategic Studies, vol, xxx, pg. 87.)

International Proscription of TLLE. Coordinated International Efforts. Favourable Public Opinion. Up gradation of the Sri Lankan army ( starting from 15000 men to 200,000 soldiers) Strong political will and sustained efforts. Rehabilitation programmes for ex-cadres of LTTE.
( Mahwish Hafeez, Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka: A scar on the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Strategic Studies, vol, xxx, pg. 87.)

Pakistan-Sri Lanka Joint Efforts for Counter-terrorism.





Elimination of foreign terrorists and their facilitators; Strengthening of the political and administrative institutions in the FATA; Establishing a safe and secure environment conducive for sustained development and the realization of real socio-economic progress; and Integrating the FATA into the national mainstream.

De-radicalization programmes for militants and their rehabilitation into mainstream. A focal agency to verify details and to evolve a consensus. Need to conduct scientific research about the patterns of terrorism and criminal profiling. Improved training and facilitation programmes for local police. Indigenous and grass-root level intelligence gathering mechanism.

Balanced foreign policy with less inclination towards the United States. Treatment of militants in accordance with their motives of joining terrorist organizations. Rehabilitation of captured militants and suicide bombers. Complete registration of madrassas, revision of their syllabus and interrogation of their means of financing. Economic opportunities for students of madrassas and of unprivileged backgrounds.

Encouragement of intellectual Islamic debate amongst Islamic scholars and broadcast of such events. Using electronic and print media for the purpose of educating citizens about Islam and terrorism. Creating a sense of awareness among civil society to identify suspicious acts. To better train, equip our intelligence agencies and promote better coordination amongst them

Expose external agents involved in supporting terrorism in Pakistan. Identifying the financial aspects of terrorist networks and cutting off their supply lines. Managing Ethnic and sectarian conflicts and exposing those who are exploiting such issues. Dealing with the psychological aspects of terrorism. Breaking the chain of atrocities. Effective justice system to alleviate peoples distresses so they do not resort to violence.

Issue of military uniform and ID cards under strict procedures. Severe penalties for those who have been proven guilty of acts of terrorism Eliminating terrorists who are otherwise not ready to surrender by use of force. Greater regional and International cooperation aimed at eliminating terrorism at home and abroad.

Key Points to Remember:

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All states must, unilaterally and in concert develop credible responses and capabilities to minimize future threat. As challenges to security of states continue to evolve, so should counter-terrorism instruments used by states transform. Patience, resolve, perseverance, political will and relentless pursuit of terrorists and their sponsors is vital. Avoiding over- reaction that could lead to repression of civil liberties and weakening of democratic institutions. Need for national, regional and international coordination against terrorism.