UN commemorated the first ever International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to Victims of Terrorism, on August 21, 2018. US, after 9/11, had put the world on notice by declaring, “With us or against us,” and the world was changed forever. Before 9/11, there had not been any major wave of terrorism in Pakistan. The thing that changed the landscape and dynamics of militancy and militant groups in the region was the post-9/11 US invasion in Afghanistan.
Geostrategic imperatives and the international community’s call Pakistan’s decision to join the global war on terrorism (GWOT). Pakistan decided to join the coalition in the larger global interest of defeating terrorism in the region. Pakistan remained the most affected of the fallout of the GWOT.
Although the international community has always calculated Pakistan’s counterterrorism role through the Afghanistan angle, they have failed to recognize the deterioration of Pakistan’s internal security and economic conditions due to the GWOT. Pakistan’s interior security had begun to break down after 2001-02 together with the rise of Islamist assailants, which later stretched out their terrorist activities to all over Pakistan. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations resulted in decrease in terrorism in the region.
Since 9/11, Pakistan suffered hundreds of terrorist attacks across all its cities. An estimated more than 70,000 men, women, and children died, at times 100 in a day but yet nothing had prepared a nation of 200 million for the brutality that was unleashed in Army Public School, Peshawar, on Dec 16, 2014.
APS massacre was the worst form of terrorism against the innocent children. It was the highest death toll of children in the world in a single terrorist attack. Research by Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences found very high prevalence of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, among students of 10 to 18 years’ age-bracket of Army Public School who survived, in spite of five months’ continuous intervention and rehabilitation services.
Pakistan remembers the courageous civilians who laid their lives in the war against terrorism and will never forget courageous teenagers like Aitzaz Hassan, who grabbed the suicide bomber when he tried to enter the Hangu school and was martyred in the incident while saving the lives of hundreds of students. Moreover, Pakistan Army has played a significant role in combating onslaught of inimical forces to achieve lasting peace, stability, and security in the country.
According to Security Report by Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), “Pakistan witnessed a further decline in the number of terrorist incidents and consequent casualties… terrorist attacks this year decreased by around 13 percent as compared to 2018.” The report clearly depicted gradual decrease in terrorist attacks and casualties since 2009. In this regard, National Action Plan (NAP) helped eliminating the menace of terrorism from the country that has been skillfully perpetuated under the current military leadership. The strategy of counter-terrorism that helped Pakistan sail through the choppy waters is known Internationally with the name of Bajwa Doctrine that is the brain child of current COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Pakistan as a nation is committed to counter any terrorism threat inside or outside its territory and has showed interest for multilateral cooperation to curb the terror elements around the globe.