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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Terrorism In Pakistan

Terrorism in Pakistan

Terror, terrorists, and terrorism are more frequently burning issues of the media. After 9/11 the phenomenon of terrorism has drastically changed the socio-economic and geo-political scenario of the Pakistan. It has shaken the social fabric of Pakistan. Terrorism is the result of extremism which results in different forms of manifestation of violence. Terrorism is a tree and extremism provides balance food to grow the tree properly. Different accused groups allegedly involved in terrorism are the branches of this tree. Terrorism is the social evil and problem of today. The phenomenon of the terrorism has occurred due to socioeconomic injustice, political disparity and quest of selfish individuals and groups to retain the power for their vested interests. No doubt, terrorism upsets humanity on the whole and creates unrest in the society. Although the acts of terrorism are visible everywhere in the world, but Pakistan is facing the phenomenon of terrorism directly and severely as a social problem. Pakistan is the front line state among international community and consequently the people and state of Pakistan are facing the outrage of the terrorists. The society of Pakistan was considered to be the most peaceful society, but since 1979 after the Russian invasion in Afghanistan the society saw great twist in the social fabric and politico economic system. The world super powers encouraged the militant organizations to promote the culture of Jihad (Islamic holy war) to defeat Russia. The world powers provided their huge support to the government of Pakistan and related militant organizations in the form of money, weapons and politico moral support. Meanwhile, political instability, corruption, social injustice and economic disparity added fuel on fire in giving rise to different forms of manifestation of terrorism. With the collapse of Russia from the world order the geo-political situation of Pakistan changed. In this changed scenario the terrorism strongly gripped and swiftly spread in Pakistani society. Its most visible manifestation was sectarianism in 1990s triggered by religious extremism. After 9/11, Swat and Waziristan Mission Rah-e-Nijaat, Pakistan once again became the front line state in war against terror. Pakistan played its role effectively to curb terrorism and militant groups which increased the acts of terrorism in Pakistan. This research seeks to find the impact on social life and culture of Pakistan, the ways to defuse the fear and effects of terrorism for social well being. Terrorism is one of the social evils not only for Pakistan but also for all over the world that negatively hit the society as a socio-economic and political problem.


2.1 Terrorism

The word Terrorism can best be defined as “The calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear “Or “Terrorism is the use of threats and violence to frighten or alarm people.” Terrorism is a term used to describe violence or other harmful acts committed (or threatened) against civilians by groups or persons for political or ideological goals. Most definitions of terrorism include only those acts which are intended to create fear or "terror", are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a "madman" attack), and deliberately target "non combatants". The terms "terrorism" and "terrorist" (someone who engages in terrorism) carry a strong negative connotation. These terms are often used as political labels to condemn violence or threat of violence by certain actors as immoral, indiscriminate, or unjustified. Those labeled "terrorists" rarely identify themselves as such, and typically use other generic terms or terms specific to their situation, such as: separatist, freedom fighter, liberator, revolutionary, vigilante, militant, paramilitary, guerrilla, rebel, jihadi or mujahidin, or any similar meaning word in other languages. In simple words terrorism is the state of fear created through the act of violence. The common understanding about the terrorism is that “Terrorism is an organized system of intimidation, especially for political ends”. Different stakeholders such as terrorist groups, states and social scientists have arch differences over the definition of the terrorism depending on the complexity of the circumstances. There is a great controversy over how to term various freedom movements as a liberation struggle or terrorists’ movements. An act of certain group is freedom fight for some people and terrorism for others. This phenomenon makes it difficult to agree on exact meaning and definition of the terrorism. Every one explains the terrorism according to his/her certain connotation and vested interests. Some definitions and versions of terrorism are mentioned below to understand the phenomenon more profoundly. Terrorism is the public harassment, wave of agitation, protest against the government, damage to public and private property, in order to draw the attention of authorities. It can be asserted that terrorism is absolutely against peaceful political set-up. According to Encyclopedia of political thought it is a form of political violence, directed at a government but often involving ordinary citizens, whose aim is to create a climate of fear in which the of the aims of the terrorist will be granted by government in question.

Charles Townshend (2002) describes the US and British version of terrorism in his book entitled “Terrorism a very short Introduction” as “The terrorism is the calculated use or threat of violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or intimidate governments or societies”. Terrorism is the language of being noticed (Delillo, 1992).

According to the Dictionary of Social Sciences “Terrorism refers to the illegitimate use of force by those who oppose existing social, political or economic arrangements”

In short it can be concluded that the terrorism is an act of violence performed by any rebellion group or individual to get the certain viewpoint acknowledged or recognized by the society and government. It is a use of force to impose the vested interest of the extremist schools of thoughts and violent groups. Terrorism may be described as a strategy of violence designed to inspire terror within a particular segment of a given society. Terrorism is a state of intense fear which threatens the most fundamental human drive the will to survive intact. When the certain groups or certain school of thought are not given due socio-political acknowledgement and accommodation they turn to violence to show their existence. It is the extreme of imposition of the will by the rulers or dissident groups on the society.

2.2 Types of Terrorism

The phenomenon of the terrorism is very complex on the whole in all aspects. There is disagreement among the scholars over the types of the terrorism unlike its definition.
Various attempts have been made to derive the most common types of terrorism. Some of them are highlighted below:

2.2.1 Suicide Terrorism

Suicide terrorism is the readiness to sacrifice one's life in the process of destroying or attempting to   destroy a target to advance their goals. The aim of the psychologically and physically war-trained terrorist is to die while destroying the enemy target. A suicide terrorist attack (also known as suicide bombing, homicide bombing or "kamikaze") is an attack intended to kill others and inflict widespread damage, while the attacker intends to die as well in the process. Modern suicide terrorism is aimed at causing devastating physical damage, through which it inflicts profound fear and anxiety. Its goal is to produce a negative psychological effect on an entire population rather than just on the victims of the actual attack. The large number of casualties guaranteed in such attacks ensures dramatic and spectacular media coverage (Schweitzer, 2000). Methods of suicide terrorism include blowing up airplanes in mid-air, the use of weapons of mass destruction, and the use as missiles of ordinary moving objects such as aircraft, motor cars, boats, wagons, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, animals, and young men and women. Over the past two decades acts of suicide terrorism have been reported in Lebanon, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Israel, Palestine (West Bank), India, Panama, Algeria, Pakistan, Argentina, Croatia, Turkey, Tanzania, Kenya and the USA. Between 1980 and 2002, an estimated 340 suicide–homicide terrorist acts have been reported, with an estimated number of victims varying from none to 3000 per incident and number of suicides ranging from 1 to as many as 16 in a single act of suicide terrorism. There are currently ten religious and secular groups that are known to have used suicide–homicide acts as a tactic against their government or against foreign governments. Some of the terrorist suicide groups are motivated by nationalism, ethnic nationalism, religion or religious ethnic nationalism (Schweitzer, 2000). The literature on suicide terrorism refers to the beliefs and personality of the leader, the social structure of the group, and makes references to irrationality, brainwashing and morbid psychology (Hazani, 1993; Lamberg, 1997; Dein & Littlewood, 2000; Colvard, 2002). The powerful hold that the leader has over the group members, generally referred to as ‘charisma’, and the leader's patience and goal-directedness are the most common factors in all suicide terrorist groups. Followers and potential suicide terrorists are indoctrinated to believe in their immortality and assured ascendance to a heavenly paradise which they are made to believe is physically present. Suicide terrorists are convinced of their immortality, a belief that gives them sufficient drive to carry out the fatal act (Hazani, 1993), a complex convergence of political, cultural and religious ideas, economic hardship and, in some cases, psychological instability (Hazani, 1993). However, it is not clear from the available literature whether mental illness among suicide terrorists is any higher than in the general population. It is possible that those who have demonstrated mental illness were ill before joining the terrorist organisation (Lamberg, 1997). Suicide terrorists who execute acts such as the attack on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 may be people who are not necessarily violent but who embark on violent actions and are prepared to die for what they believe to be the greater good of their society (Colvard, 2002). The primary aim of suicide terrorists is not suicide, because to the terrorist groups suicide is simply a means to an end, with a motivation that stems from rage and a sense of self-righteousness. They see themselves as soldiers willing to sacrifice themselves for a higher purpose and are convinced of an eternal reward through their action (Ganor, 2000). Two main motivations can be identified in the vast majority of suicide terrorist acts: the first is anger and a sense of hopelessness; the second is a deep religious belief that a better life awaits in paradise.

2.2.2 Political terrorism

Political terrorism is a violent criminal behavior designed primarily to generate fear in the community, or substantial segment of it, for political purposes.

2.2.3 Non Political terrorism

Non-Political terrorism is a Terrorism that is not aimed at political purposes but which exhibits “conscious design to create and maintain high degree of fear for coercive purposes, but the end is individual or collective gain rather than the achievement of a political objective.

2.2.4 State Terrorism

State terrorism has been used to refer to terrorist acts by governmental agents or forces. This involves the use of state resources employed by a state's foreign policies, such as using its military to directly perform acts of terrorism.
2.2.5 Democracy and Domestic Terrorism
The relationship between domestic terrorism and democracy is very complex. Terrorism is most common in nations with intermediate political freedom, and is least common in the most democratic nations. However, one study suggests that suicide terrorism may be an exception to this general rule. Evidence regarding this particular method of terrorism reveals that every modern suicide campaign has targeted a democracy- a state with a considerable degree of political freedom. The study suggests that concessions awarded to terrorists during the 1980s and 1990s for suicide attacks increased their frequency. Some examples of "terrorism" in non-democracies include ETA in Spain under Francisco Franco, the Shining Path in Peru under Alberto Fujimori, the Kurdistan Workers Party when Turkey was ruled by military leaders and the ANC in South Africa. Democracies, such as the United States, Israel, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines, have also experienced domestic terrorism. While a democratic nation espousing civil liberties may claim a sense of higher moral ground than other regimes, an act of terrorism within such a state may cause a perceived dilemma: whether to maintain its civil liberties and thus risk being perceived as ineffective in dealing with the problem; or alternatively to restrict its civil liberties and thus risk delegitimizing its claim of supporting civil liberties. This dilemma, some social theorists would conclude, may very well play into the initial plans of the acting terrorist(s); namely, to delegitimize the state.
2.3 Social Life
Social life is the combination of various components: activities, people, and places. While all of those components are required to define a social life, the nature of each component is different for every person, and can change for each person, as affected by a variety of external influences. There are different kinds of things that affect one’s social life. There are the obvious factors that affect our social lives over the course of our lifetime, like age – a teenager’s social life of hanging out at the closest mall accessible by bike is different from a 35-year olds social life of going to a dinner party at a friend’s house, or even stage in life – two 30-year-olds will have very different social lives if one is married with three kids, living out in the suburbs. There are also more immediate things that can affect one’s social life on a day-to-day basis. Availability of friends and/or dates, current cash flow, personal schedule, recent positive restaurant reviews, and perhaps a post on where the celebs are hanging out can all determine with whom you interact, the nature of activities, how often you socialize, and where such social activities take place.
2.4 Social Impact
The word social Impact tells us about the Society, In order to understand it first we’ll discuss the definition of society.

“An extended social group is having a distinctive cultural and economic organization”
“A formal association of people with similar interests”

As the definition shows, a society is a grouping of individuals, which is characterized by common interest and may have distinctive culture and institutions. In a society members can be from a different ethnic group. A "Society" may refer to a particular people such as Pakistani, or to a broader cultural group, such as Western society. Society can also be explained as an organized group of people associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes. Implicit in the meaning of society is that its members share some mutual concern or Interest, a common objective or common characteristics.


These were the following hypothesis formulated for our research:

 ·         H-1   Terrorism is affecting the social life and culture of Pakistan

·         H-2   People are bravely facing the current volatile and adverse situation



The methods selected for the research were as follows:

·         Survey

·         Secondary Analysis

·         Documents
4.1 Survey

The primary research was carried out through surveys including questionnaires and interviews. The interviews were taken from our relatives and different faculty members of our university including students. Questionnaire was particularly devised for testing the selected hypothesis by randomly selecting the individuals of different age groups of Air University Islamabad.
There were eight close ended questions and one open ended question. They were informed about the key terms and guided in order to remove any sort of confusion which could lead to inappropriate results. The total sample size of the questionnaires was 100.Some of the questionnaires which were not filled properly were discarded, 100 questionnaires were floated out of which 90 were selected. The results are analyzed based on assessment of individual question given in later section of this report.

4.2 Secondary Analysis

The secondary data and researches that were already there helped us study and brain-storm about what we wanted to get out of this research. This research methodology was mainly used to test our second hypothesis that people of Pakistan are bravely facing the current volatile and adverse situation. It helped us a lot to get the desired information and come up with the effects of terrorism on their social life and culture.

4.3 Documents

Internet, Magazines, Articles & Journals, Newspapers, Library books of AU were mainly used to collect all the information related to the effects of terrorism on social life and culture of Pakistan.


5.1 Discussion

Nowadays people avoid going to social gathering due to terrorist attacks which clearly shows that the terrorism has affected the social life of general population. Nobody can afford to trust in their social circle and personal life now. They are afraid of being the victims of terrorism. Most of them agreed that the violent acts of terrorism has badly damaged their mental    growth and created a constant stressful situation for them and their family. A situation full of stress, frustration only helps in boosting troubles for them thus frustrated and stressed out due to everyday terrorist activities. Religion is our core value which however started being affected by the terrorism. The question we asked in relation to this was that “Do you feel safe to offer prayers in the mosque?” 50% preferred to stay neutral; the other major portion that is 20% strongly disagreed. This shows that people are confused right now, but yes they did have an impact. The cultural value of Pakistan like hospitality is changing due to the terrorist actions. Hospitality is again a core value of our nation which is on its way to down. Like said above, there’s word trust does not lie anymore anywhere, the good example of hospitality will be even before you say ‘Salam’ to a plumber, you make sure he leaves your place as soon as possible. People have been psychologically affected due to the current adverse scenario of the country. Terrorist activities have affected our social relationships with other countries. 46% of the respondents strongly agreed to it. We have lost our respect internationally. The good example is that Cricket champion’s trophy was to be held in Pakistan, instead in South Africa. Each year there is an arts festival held in Lahore where performers from all over the world come, it was cancelled. Moreover, we have to hear now ‘do more do more’ slogans which further frustrates our nation. The open ended question that the measures taken by the government to prevent terrorist attacks are satisfactory was designed to check the solidity of the people and their trust on Government. Many valuable inputs also came in with this question. Respondents said that creating a war like situation in the country like these huge concrete walls, sand bags, no they will also build a concrete wall between divider on Islamabad highway, they won’t help in preventing terrorist attacks. They were of the opinion that the Government should rather take concrete measures then creating a war like situation as it is in Iraq. For detailed results (see Appendix-B)

5.2 Analysis

Eighty two percent of H1 is fully accepted which shows that the terrorism is effecting the social life and culture of Pakistan. H2 is accepted through our secondary analysis including different videos proving that the Pakistanis are bravely facing the current volatile and adverse situation. This can be authenticated through our study as both the hypotheses have been proved.



The end sufferer of the terrorism is the general public. It is general consensus among the social scientists that human conflict and corruption cannot be done away from the society. The human conflict results in the form of violence or terrorism. The repercussions of the terrorism are very serious for the masses. No doubt, the terrorism not only directly affects economic development and prosperity but the psycho-social repercussions and heavily damage human personality and the society. The effects of terrorism may vary from different persons to different societies. These are some of the following effects and impacts devise through our research:

·         First of all the terrorism has created a sense of fear in the minds of the people. This fear has further lead to sense of dissatisfaction and terror among the people.

·         Due to terrorism the sense of helplessness has prevailed in the human minds. This sense of helplessness has further lead to hopelessness among the people regarding their personal and social well-being.

·         The violent acts of terrorism has badly damaged the mental growth of the human beings and put them in to constant stressful situation. Such attacks especially, leave harmful and far reaching effects on the minds of the children when they see dead bodies and horrible scenes of the terrorism on the media. These days the media gives extra ordinary coverage to the incidents of terrorism all over the world and people find themselves involved very much which creates resentment in their minds.

·         Being affected by the repercussion of the terrorism the snobbish attitude has been developed among the masses. It has further damaged human and familial relationships which ultimately affects the working performance of the individuals.

·         Government has lost their trust and solidity. It has enhanced anger and resentment among the masses against the government and the state apparatus.

·         The people have become the victims of psychological diseases such as anxiety and frustration, aggression, and deprivation. The social relationships have severely suffered from great loss in the presence of these psychological diseases.

·         Due to terrorism social splits has widened among the people belonging to the different schools of thought. This split has become the cause of significant social division which harms the social fabric and unity negatively.

·         Due to the fear of terrorist attacks the people are trying to escape from their social and professional responsibilities. For example a soldier cannot perform his duty if he/she has witnessed other companions dying in the deadly terrorist attacks. Of course, one will join his/her duty but due to constant fear of losing the life he/she would perform duty in the state of fear.

·         Terrorism has promoted social segregation and isolation among the different strata of the society. It has created distance between the supporters and suffers of the accused terrorist attacks. That means the terrorism has enhanced the social disturbance and people feel divided in the society.

·         Terrorism has affected the social progress and well-being of the people. Because of the terrorists activities the businesses and economy of the country has suffered a great loss. As a result poverty has increased which damages the society very much.

In short, terrorism has long lasting effects on the individuals, groups and overall society. The social prosperity and the well-being of the masses are at the risk and in the situation of constant strain and stress. The human beings find it difficult to live their life properly and calmly. The violent behavior develops among the people who lead to socio-economic decline and destroy the human and social relationships.



7.1 Implication

Our research project can be very useful for the Government, Public, Sociologist and Psychologist to study and work on these effects of terrorism on social life and culture of Pakistan.

7.2 Research Limitations

Due to some limitations we weren’t able to conduct research up to its full potential level. Security concerns in Pakistan limited our research to the greater extent. Many of the respondents were avoiding talking on this topic because of the current adverse scenario. We were bound to research within the university and couldn’t visit different people who are actually the sufferers of terrorism to carry out the research work.

7.3 Future research

Future researchers on this topic can research on the causes and cures of these effects of terrorism on social life and culture of Pakistan.

7.4 Recommendations

·         Government should establish some rehabilitation centre for the sufferers who have become the victims of these psychological diseases due to the psycho-social effects of terrorism.

·         The effort of the international community in general and the institutions working against terrorism in special should help individual states in diagnosing the causes and issues which need to be resolved.

·         The international community should try to agree upon the minimum common agenda to curb terrorism.

·         The clear cut distinction should be established and maintained to work closely in the fight against terrorism.


·         Schweitzer, Y. (2000) Suicide Terrorism: Development and Characteristics.
·         The British Journal of Psychiatry (2003)
·         CHARLES, TOWNSHEND (2002). Terrorism a very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, Pakistan.
·         MUHAMMAD, IMTIAZ ZAFAR DR. (2007). Violence Terrorism and Teaching of Islam. Higher Education Commission, Pakistan.

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