Insurgency cannot do without physical terrain – terrain that insurgents can call home. Insurgents cannot do without safe sanctuaries – safe havens to plan and to train. Physical terrain of their own is the first and the foremost prerequisite. Two others – along with physical terrain – that complete the terrorist-insurgent cycle are: money and manpower. In effect, the terrorist-insurgent tripod rests on physical terrain, money and manpower.
According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, “Pakistan is the 5th most violent nation in the world”. Others in the group include Iraq – the most violent – followed by Somalia, Afghanistan,Sudan and Pakistan. According to the South Asia Media Commission, “Pakistan is the most dangerous country in South Asia for journalists”. According to Liam Fox, Britain’s ex-defense minister, “Pakistan is probably the most dangerous country in the world”. According to a Thomson Reuters Foundation report, “Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan are the world’s most dangerous countries for women…”
What do Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia have in common? Answer: Terrorists are in possession of physical terrain that they can call home. What do Pakistan, Congo and Afghanistan have in common? Answer: Insurgents are in de facto possession of safe sanctuaries-safe heavens where they plan and train.
In 2004, Pakistan ceded territory under the Shakai agreement. In 2005, Pakistan ceded territory under the Sararogha peace deal (signed between Pakistan’s military and Baitullah Mehsud, once Pakistan’s most wanted terrorist who was killed in a drone strike in 2009). In 2006, Pakistan ceded territory under the Miranshah peace accord. In 2008, Pakistan ceded territory under the Khyber Agency pact. As things stand, Pakistan has ceded some 30,000 square kilometers of its 796,095 square kilometers to various terrorist-insurgent conglomerates.
Then there is the Saudi Arabia-Iran proxy battle taking place on our territory. Money, the other critical driver, pours in from Saudi Arabia, India and Iran. Then there’s some 20,000 ‘foreign fighters’ residents of territories so far ceded; 5,000 Saudis, 4,000 Uzbeks and Chechen, 3,000 Yemenis, 2,000 Egyptian, 2,800 Algerians, 400 Tunisians, 300 Iraqis, 200 Libyans and 200 Jordanians. Then there’s a chain of madressahs churning out truckloads of ‘practicing jihadis’ plus a public school system that teaches a ‘curriculum of hate’ and produces trainloads of ‘closet jihadis’.
Then there’s society-wide confusion that reigns supreme. Then there’s the civilian and the military leaderships that are not on the same page. Then there are politicians bent upon allowing ideological space to terrorists. Then there’s the divided Pakistani population. Then there’s the Pakistani state that provides neither physical nor economic security to its citizens. Then there’s the Pakistani state that provides neither justice nor municipal services to its citizens.
The physical terrain-money-manpower cycle is complete in Pakistan like it is in no other country on the face of the planet. The physical terrain-money-manpower cycle has to be broken. Unfortunately, “confusion of means and confusion of ends seem to characterize our age.”
The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article first appeared in The News International, one of Pakistan’s leading dailies. Click here to go to the original.