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Time for an Indigenous Pakistani Counter Terrorism Discourse?

Working Paper 08

Abdul Basit


While the US has withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Taliban are back in power in Kabul, and the War on Terror (WOT) has ostensibly ended, terrorism in Pakistan has not.1 On the contrary, after witnessing a significant slump between 2015 and 2020, the frequency and potency of terror in Pakistan has once again increased substantially in 2021.

Following the reunification of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in August 2020, and an alliance of the Baloch and Sindhi separatist groups against the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), terrorism (which witnessed a lull between 2015 and 2020) has increased in Pakistan.2 At the same time, some religious groups from communities not known for aggressive religio-political behaviour, such as the Barelvi Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), have earned notoriety for using street agitation and disruptive politics in pursuit of their ideological goals.3 The misplaced enthusiasm of these radical groups will further stifle free speech in Pakistan, and constrict the space for peaceful coexistence and critical thinking.4

The purpose of this paper is to generate a debate in Pakistan for a more contextualised and indigenised counter terrorism (CT) discourse, which is neither antagonistic to the practice of Islam, nor locates Pakistan’s policy choices since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as the singular or sole driver of extremist trends in society.

This paper examines the evolution of terrorism and the CT discourse in Pakistan. It argues that following the US exit from Afghanistan, Pakistan should take a long view of the terrorism challenge to move away from post-9/11 CT discourse. It conceptualises what constitutes extremism and terrorism in Pakistan’s context.

You can read the complete Working Paper 08 here.

Abdul Basit
+ posts

Abdul Basit is an Associate Research Fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Basit specializes in issues of politics, violence, religious extremism, terrorism and security in South Asia. He has co-authored a book entitled Dynamics of Taliban Insurgency in FATA, published from Pakistan by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS).