WAR ON TERROR/ TERRORISM | Essay for CSS and PMS | web4study


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Terror, terrorists, and terrorism are more frequently burning issues of the media. In the present time, the world is confronting terrorism in different manifestations. After 9/11 the phenomenon of terrorism has drastically changed the socio-economic and geo-political scenario of the world. It has shaken the social fabric and world peace. Terrorism is the result of extremism which results in different forms of manifestation of violence. The ultimate sufferers of the terrorism are the innocent masses who have actually nothing to do with the complicated new world order. 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. It is the materialization of the violence which has been an integral part of human history. Human beings have witnessed several furious wars and massacres in almost every civilization and every part of the world throughout the ages until today. The phenomenon of terrorism has occurred due to socioeconomic injustice, political disparity and quest of selfish individuals and groups to retain the power for 1heir vested interests. No doubt, terrorism upsets humanity on the whole and creates unrest in society.

It is difficult to tell the meaning of terrorism but it can be briefly said that terrorism is a state of mind rather than activity. To find the meaning of terrorism it is relevant to look at the etymology of the word violence which is strongly interconnected with word terrorism. The term violence is derived from Latin violator that means to violate or to go against the socially accepted norms or to misuse it. Similarly, terrorism means to impose one’s own interpretations of religious teachings, socio-cultural, and politico-economic values and norms through v10Ience in society. Very briefly terrorism means the physical and mental process of terrifying individual and certain groups of society through the element of violence. Academically, it is the most difficult task to define terrorism as a minimum acceptable Tenn. Sociologists, criminologists and political scientists are trying their best to reach on the minimum acceptable definition but due to the great complexity of the phenomenon and situations there are lot of work to be done

In simple words, terrorism is the state of fear created through the act of violence. The common understanding of 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 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 a certain group is a fight for freedom for some people and terrorism for others. This phenomenon makes it difficult to agree on the exact meaning and definition of terrorism. Every one explains 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.

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”.

Present-day the concept of terrorism is based on duplicity- the trending slogan is that “on man’s terrorism is another person’s freedom fighter”. Freedom fighters of Kashmir are terrorists for India and USA while the forefathers of the Americans, who won freedom from England with armed assistance of France, are considered to be liberators. Similarly, Israelis and Palestinians have been impeaching each other for terrorist activities. Modem “Terrorism” word was coined by the US when they threatened Imam Khomeini’s government to be labelled as terrorist if they did not release American consulate members, who had been kept as hostages after the Iranian revolution in 1979. The new terrorism emerged in the I 980s from more traditional forms of political conflict in the strands of strident Muslims terrorism began to appear that was unrelated to the Palestinian or any other definable political cause. In Egypt President Anwar Sadat Was assassinated by religious extremists and Hezbollah suicide bombers in Lebanon targeted symbols of American military power. By the mid-I 990s, religious-based terrorism aimed at the general population as well as at symbols of government power exploded throughout the world. Activists from virtually every religious tradition were involved not only Islamic suicide bombers in the Middle East but also Christian militants in the United States, Jewish assassins in Israel, a terrorist Buddhist sect in Japan, the Tamils in Sri Lanka and radical Sikhs and Hindus in India.

History of terrorism is as old as human civilization. To overview the history of terrorism one will have to depend upon the history of violence that was given a new name in the French revolution. In ancient times terrorism manifested in the form of individual and tribal riots. Later the small states faced terrorist attacks by the bigger states as foreign aggression. Human history has witnessed countless furious wars in which millions of people were massacred in dreadful terrorist acts. The series of human subjugation is still visible even in the 21st century. The violence which has been present in human history throughout the ages has been given new name terrorism after the French Revolution in 1779. We see in the history that Alexander the great and other warriors continuously killed millions of people that can also be termed as the terrorists of ancient human history. The Roman Empire also contested several dangerous wars to establish their kingdom in the world. Even the people of God continued to fight with each other in the name of religion. Those wars also resulted in the killing of thousands of innocents just for the quest of power.

The earlier organization that exhibited aspects of a modern terrorist organization was the Zealots of Judea, known to the Roman as Sicarii, or dagger-men. They carried on an underground campaign of assassination of Roman occupation forces, as well as any Jews they felt had collaborated with the Romans. In ancient India, many wars were fought among different groups or tribes. The European nations also fought wars with each other resulting in the deaths of several innocent people. The French Revolutionary Governments coined the word terrorism by instituting systematic state terror against the population of French in the 1790s, killing thousands of people.

In the 20th Century, the world witnessed World War I and II as big showdowns of terrorism to achieve the goals of superpower. Later the incident of atomic bombardment on Japan and human conflict in Vietnam are big human destruction which shakes the conscience of mankind. In the last decade of the 20th Century, the phenomenon of terrorism continued to occur in the world more prominently after the end of the cold war. The incidents of September I and July 7 are the height of terrorist acts. It shaped the world in new directions. In modem times we have seen the horrible wars in the Persian Gulf, Middle East and Africa in which the violence was used to terrorize the opponent. The war between Iraq and Iran, Kuwait and Iraq and deadly killings in Rwanda, Zaire and Congo are the worst recent examples of terrorism. Even these days in many countries of the world the proxy and guerrilla wars are harming and killing innocent and irrelevant people.

In short, it can be firmly said that terrorism was present throughout human history but since few decades it has been given a new dimension. This phenomenon should always be seen in a historical perspective to understand the issue properly.

Following are the causes of terrorism:

To understand and solve the problem of terrorism it is essential for all to realize and identify the causes of terrorism. The terrorism is a complex phenomenon which has several reasons such as social, economic, religious and political etc. all these factors contribute to the enhancement and flourishing the terrorist activities. This global phenomenon has various causes and some of them are being spelt out briefly for a better understanding of the issue. This is also notable that the causes of terrorism may be different in various societies due to its religious, ethnic and political nature.

Helplessness which leads to hopelessness is the psychological state that enhances terrorism in the society. The society in which the people are ignored and have to suffer from socioeconomic and political injustice provides a conducive environment to promote terrorism. When the people and their problem are neglected or kept aloof they ultimately express their resentment in the form of violent behaviour to attract the attention of the state and the people. We can witness that in the long-standing political disputes such as Palestine and Kashmir etc where the aspirations of the people were not heeded some of them started militant movements. Similarly, in communist regimes where the people were not given their socio-political rights, they brought about even deadly revolution.

Political and Economic deprivations are the main root causes of terrorism. When the political and economic rights of the certain groups are not granted it chooses the suitable method of terrorism to show their anger. This deprivation encourages the effected groups to adopt violent ways to get their aspirations fulfilled. For example, we can see that in northern states of India such as Assam, Nagaland, and West Bengal etc. the communists started gorilla war against the Indian Government. Charles Kegley while discussing contemporary terrorism presents a root cause school of thought which asserts that political and economic deprivation are the main causes of terrorism. He views the advocates of “Root Causes Theory” propel that “politically oppressed and economically deprived people are more prone to violent and terrorist behaviour. They are deprived of their basic needs and this condition forces them to change their fate by hook or crook.

At the end of the cold war, the influence of communist regimes inspired by Marxist and Leninist theories made a cause of escalation of terrorism in the world. Being influenced by such regimes many freedom movements adopted violence. We see in Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka communists and Tamales started violent movements in the last to decades of twentieth-century for their freedom.

In the society where there is illiteracy, hunger and economic disparity the terrorism flourishes rapidly. All these factors lead to an increase in poverty which itself is the mother of terrorism. Famous philosopher Aristotle had agreed on the assertion stating that “Poverty is a mother of Terrorism and Revolution”. We see for example in Muslim countries there is a huge amount of poverty and that is why it becomes easier for the terrorist groups to find interested persons due to their poor economic conditions.

Due to incredible advancement in weapons technology and human knowledge it has become easy for the terrorists to get them easily. Hugh quantity of information about the arms manufacturing has been spread by the internet which has made access to the terrorists easy and they use weapons to get quick results the act of terrorism.

Terrorism is a short cut tactic for terrorists to achieve their goals quickly. It is more result orientated rather than peaceful movement. That is why the terrorist groups adopt this for getting more results in a shorter time. Easy access to weapons and widespread information of the am1s technology is the cause of escalation of terrorism in modem times.

Lack of Democracy is the main cause of terrorism in present times. The dictators and autocrat governments frighten opponents. They do it to create fear among the masses to suppress any opposition against their governments. In undemocratic circumstances, the people do not find ways to express their disable element and as a result some of them tum to the violent means to submit their expression. We can see in many autocrats and communist states in Latin America and Africa the massive force was ~wed against the political opponents.

Other than above-mentioned causes sociologists have another point of view. A man is violent by nature. The sociologists present three hypotheses biological instinctual, social learning, and frustration-aggression. Sigmund Freud’s says that “Man is embodied with an instinctive urge and appetite of attacking and subjugating others” (Zafar, 2007). It means that natural human beings try to divert towards violence and terrorism bOy nature. The second point is that the social learning of the person also convinces him/her towards terrorism. If one grows and develops in the oppressed society one can be easily attracted towards violence and terrorism.

Other than above discussion the causes of terrorism in the context of Pakistan were highlighted by the Gen. Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan. He, while addressing an international seminar on Global Terrorism on August 29-2007 organized by institute of Regional studies (IRS) Islamabad pinpointed some noteworthy causes of terrorism in Pakistani and global perspective. He described the following causes which deserve due attention by the international community.

Political deprivation and alienation are an arch cause of terrorism. this leads to hopelessness. The sense of powerlessness, which then leads to these terrorist acts.

Lack of education and poverty are equally responsible for the increase in terrorist activities. The illiterate are wrongly given the hope to go directly into heaven if he/she commits a terrorist act for God or religion. Thus, in a circumstance where there is lack of education and poverty, it becomes easier for the masterminds of the terrorist groups to launch the offences at the cost of the socio-economic compulsion and ignorance of the poor masses.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has rightly indicated that the wrong understanding and misinterpretation of the religion is the important cause of terrorism. He asserts that in Pakistan there are many clerics who have limited knowledge of the teachings and values of Islam. They misguide the people for their vested interests in the name of religion.

Religious terrorism comes from many major faiths, as well as from small cults. This type of terrorism is growing rapidly and is discussed widely on international media. Religious terrorists seek to use violence to further what they see as divinely commanded purposes, often targeting broad categories of foes in an attempt to bring about sweeping changes.

State-sponsored terrorism is one of the most controversial types of terrorism. In this category, the state uses hidden groups to suppress anti-state or anti-government elements in the country. State-sponsored terrorist groups are deliberately used by radical states as foreign policy tools-as Hoffman puts it, as “a cost-effective way of waging war covertly, through the use of surrogate warriors or ‘guns for hire”. State-sponsored terrorism is normally executed by autocratic to suppress the political opponents. The state sponsor terrorist groups are more effective, efficient and active rather than any group because of having moral, political and logistic support of the government or state.

Although the acts of terrorism are visible everywhere in the world, Pakistan is facing the phenomenon of terrorism directly and severely as a social problem. Pakistan is the front line state among the international community and consequently, the people and state of Pakistan are facing the outrage of the terrorists. It is the second state in the world which was created on the basis of religious ideology along with Israel.

The estimated population of Pakistan is almost 19m out of which 96. 72% are Muslims whereas the rest of the population consists of different religious minority groups including Christians, and Hindus etc. The territory of Pakistan is the part of the rich civilization of Indus and ‘Ghandhara Civilization’. Since its independence, Pakistan has remained in the focus of attention of world powers to gain their politico-economic interests. Pakistan was created for the oppressed people of the subcontinent. It started its journey of socio-economic and political development according to the aspiration of its creators.

Although there remained political instability and manifold problems, it emerged quickly as a strong country. The society of Pakistan was considered to be the most peaceful society, but since 1979 after the Russian invasion in Afghanistan, the society saw a great twist in the social fabric and politico-economic system. The world superpowers encouraged the militant organizations to promote the culture of Jihad 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. In the eighties, Pakistan became fertile land for the militant groups where extremist mentality . was promoted both by the government and other stakeholders to attract the youth to fight against the Russian forces. The government of late Zia-ul-Haq, President of Pakistan {1977-1988) and related subgroups continued to enjoy the blessing of the world powers but soon after the evacuation of Russia from Afghanistan these militant groups scattered. The international community pulled back its support · from these militant organizations and their agenda was completely changed. These groups which were very resourceful in tern1s of money, weapons and religious-political influence in the region started to fight against each other.

During the Afghan war the huge quantity of arms and ammunition came and stored in Pakistan which was later used by these groups in sectarian tribal and political violence. Meanwhile, political instability, corruption, social injustice and economic disparity added fuel on the fire in giving rise to different fonts of manifestation of terrorism. With the collapse of Russia from the world order, the geopolitical 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 the 1990s triggered by religious extremism.

After 9/11 Pakistan once again became the front line state in the war against terror in the international community. Pakistan played its role effectively to curb terrorism and militant groups which increased the acts of terrorism in Pakistan. The terrorism further enhanced intolerance and fear among the masses. These days terrorism is one of the social evils not only for Pakistan but also for all over the world. This is how the phenomenon of terrorism occurred in Pakistan and negatively hit society as a socio-economic and political problem. The social workers who are considered to be the catalyst for social change are required to think and work on the subject to defuse the fear and effects of terrorism for social well being.

The west is engaged in presenting a distorted image of Islam linking all the terrorist activities taking place in any part of the world with it. Like other religions, Islam is the religion of peace, love and harmony. Actually the word “Islam” in addition to meaning submission (to Allah/God), is also derived from the Arabic word Salam (Peace). Islam itself is the religion of peace and promotes love, social justice and human equality. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught his followers the peaceful co-existence through his teachings and practice. If one wishes to know the teachings of Islam about terrorism and violence should refer to the Holy Quran which is the unchallengeable source of Islamic teachings. After 9/11 and subsequent incidence of terrorism, the tendency has increased to label the Muslim community and religion of Islam with terrorism. This is totally propaganda that has made this world more polarized and disputed. The considerable point is that most of the terrorist groups in the world provide a cover of the religion to their terrorist actions. So is the case with the group active in Muslim countries. Moreover, there is no proper understanding of the teachings of Islam and differences among the various sects of Islam over the interpretation of Islamic teachings made it easy for the opponents to assert their views. However, the Holy Quran has clearly condemned and forbidden the killing of innocent people. In Islam, the war is only allowed when it is m self-defence. The Holy Quran upholds that the death of a single human being is the death of humanity.

The end sufferer of terrorism is the general public. It is general consensus among the social scientists that human conflict and corruption cannot be done away from society. The human conflict results in the form of violence or terrorism. The repercussions of terrorism are very serious for the masses. No doubt, 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. Following are the repercussions that harm individual and society accumulatively.

First of all the terrorism creates a sense of fear in the minds of the people. This fear further leads to a sense of dissatisfaction and terror among the people.

Due to terrorism, the sense of helplessness prevails in human minds. This sense of helplessness further leads to hopelessness among the people regarding their personal and social well-being.

The violent acts of terrorism badly damage the mental growth of human beings and put them in a 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 extraordinary 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 develops among the masses. It further damages human and familial relationships which ultimately affects the working performance of the individuals.

The constant terrorist acts bring about the reason of losing trust and cohesion of the people on the government and state. It enhances anger and resentment among the masses against the government and the state apparatus.

The people find themselves the victims of psychological diseases such as anxiety and frustration, aggression, and deprivation. This embarrassing situation results in the productivity of human beings as highly undermined. The social relationships severely suffer from great loss in the presence of these psychological diseases.

Terrorism not only badly impacts on the individual but also the whole social system has to suffer the consequences. Due to terrorism social split widens among the people belonging to the different schools of thought. This spill becomes the cause of significant social division which harms the social fabric and unity negatively.

Due to the fear of terrorist attacks, people try 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 promotes social segregation and isolation among the different strata of society. It creates distance between the supporters and suffers of the accused terrorist attacks. That means terrorism enhances the social disturbance and people feel divided in the society.

Terrorism definitely affects the social progress and well-being of the people. Because of the terrorist’s activities, the businesses and economy of the country suffer which directly lessen the job opportunities. As a result poverty increases 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. Human beings find it difficult to live their life properly and calmly. Violent behaviour develops among the people who lead to socio-economic decline and destroy human and social relationships.

First of all, we should denounce terrorism at a personal level in our academic activities and the general practice of social work. Secondly, it is important for the civil society to rise against terrorism by raising its voice at local national and international level. The third part is the most important one which demands practical foresight. However, one may think that how one can work practically at the individual level to combat terrorism. There are so many ways. We can become .r part of senior religious community organizations which are trying to decrease the causes of terrorism. This can be done at both community and professional level in our vicinity and on the workplace. We should also become a part of the political system through participation in political process and parties as pressure groups to divert the government’s attention to resolve the disputed matters at national p,d international levels. Civil society organization advocate with the government; · ·and intergovernmental organizations to resolve the long-standing issues at national and international levels. They may also try to advocate with the active terrorist groups to bring them towards the peaceful struggle to solve their problems. Civil society groups and especially social workers can play a vital role by initiating and executing the projects of inter-faith harmony at the community, national, and international level. The members of the civil society organizations and groups should volunteer themselves in the activities of community development, peace and interfaith harmony. The civil society groups will have to work hard to get the people to realize that terrorism is the social evil. The civil society groups should work actively for conflict resolution.

On the whole, civil society groups should work as a catalyst to curb extremism or terrorism. They should endeavour to identify the region-specific causes of terrorism through in-depth social researches and should work with the masses, terrorist groups and governments to diminish the terrorism from the society.

On the political front, Pakistan was greatly affected in fighting the war against terrorism. While it has taken many valuable steps to defeat terror like the deployment of more than 90,000 troops along the Afghan border, capturing of high-rank terrorists, search operations, military operations and official condemnation of all fonts and manifestations of terrorism, it has caused bad blood between the rulers and ruled to an extent as well as caused a kind of rift between Pakistan and the Western world. In spite of all the sacrifices, the country is making it is branded to be a country insincere or half-hearted in fighting the menace. Every time the country is told to “do more'”. it 1s farther alleged for infiltration of the militants inside US-NATO dominated Afghanistan. The failure of the Western \roops in the neighbourhood is blamed on Pakistan. This situation has eroded the trust between the governments and caused an international image problem for the country. Moreover, when a recent incident of Bombay carnage and terror act in Iran occurred fingers were pointed at Pakistan. Though the political impact of the latter case was defused due to the effective diplomacy between Iran and Pakistan the terrorism act in India stopped the Composite Dialogue between Pakistan and India.

In addition to political and territorial impacts, the economy of the county has also been negatively affected. According to the recent official figures Pakistan has expended 35 billion US dollars since taking on this scourge of terrorism. In the same way, investment opportunities have been reduced due to the volatile law and order situation. To opine that in Pakistan a PloSt all the provinces are not immune for the heinous actions of terrorism, extremism and suicidal bombings would not be wrong. The terrorists and suicidal events that have taken place in Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi etc. support the opinion. In Punjab, several attacks on the police parade have carried out. In Peshawar, the SoikamoGhawk and Session Courts Gate terrorist’s events that left many innocent people dead were recently resorted to. These incidents have brought ill consequences over the face of law and order situation which is discouraging the foreign investment opportunities in the country for the last several years.

The religion has been affected by the war against terrorism. The religion of Islam is perceived to be the one tolerating extremism and terrorism abroad. In the western world, people equate violence, abuse against women and minority rights, and several acts of terrorism like suicidal bombing and coercion with Islam and Muslims. Whenever any such inhuman~ct takes place they tie it with Islam and its followers. When in the UK terror acts were committed the authority blamed it on Pakistani citizens for instance. And why these days Pakistanis are discriminately interrogated and have to be screened before they inter the US is due to the fact that they are Pakistanis and Muslims.

As in Pakistan acts of terrorism are rife. it has created the image problem for us. Pakistan is considered to be a country not doing enough to eradicate the menace though it has been taking all the possible steps to eradicate it. The country is taken with a dubious eye.

Similarly, the terror has brought in its wake psychological problems. Fear in the hearts of the people has assumed a substantial form. Trauma, depressions and confusion have been increased. The people feel insecure and unsafe whenever in their daily life activities, as time and again they watch the terror events taking place in different cities. Those have especially been suffered who have closely witnessed the suicidal bombings.

Social impacts have also been caused by this war. In a society, where terror exists can not be healthy. Social disorganization has occurred due to terrorism. Social relations, economic transactions, free moments, getting an education, offering prayers etc have suffered.

Moreover, a result-bound mechanism needs to be there to check the foreign anti-Pakistan hands fostering terrorism in the country. Several anti-country secret agencies are uncovered which are active in Balochistan and the tribal belt destabilizing Pakistan. Arms, ammunitions and training have been given to the terrorists here. So, steps ought to be taken to check these forces and foil their designs of making our society a hub of terrorist activities.

Besides, a strategy of socio-economic development should be launched in the conflict-affected zones like FATA and NWFP. Because poverty, disparity, hopelessness and unemployment have paved the way for terrorism. If they are mainstreamed, the prospects of terrorism would decrease.

Similarly, the US, NATO governments and Pakistan should set together and seek a way out. They should exchange views, expertise and technologies to defeat terrorism in their respective regions. No blame-game should be allowed to shadow the efforts for its eradication. Pakistan has suffered the most in this war in men and material and its role should be appreciated with an open heart. Further, state-of-the-art technologies ought to be given to Pakistan military support monetary help given.

Similarly, media should also play its due role. It should run an awareness program and debate the negative consequences of terrorism. Those messages should be delivered that discourage the menace.

Judiciary should also fulfil its responsibility to discourage terrorism. Anti-terrorism Courts should dispose of the cases in time.

In fact, terrorism has severely impacted Pakistan in several ways The state and people have suffered badly. Socio-economically, politically, religiously, psychologically and internationally it ha, been affected. The country deserves to be a hub of peace and development. Law and order situation should improve. We need to draw effective measures for defeating the forces of terrorism by bringing to the fore its causes. On economic, political, diplomatic, social and strategic fronts all out endeavours should be made to put a halt to terrorism.


• Define terrorism and its various definitions and what are its various types?

• Write an essay on War on Terror and how was it started?

• Discuss in detail the social, economic and psychological impacts of War on Terror on our society.

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