Countering Terrorism through National Narrative

By Aamina Khan

Note: The writer is an MPhil from National Defence University, Pakistan in Peace and Conflict Studies.

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The onset of 2017 has brought a fresh wave of terrorism in Pakistan. Until March 2017, around 35 terrorist attacks have been recorded in which approximately 200 people died including civilians and security personals. On February 17, 2017, the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander comes under a deadliest blast in which around 100 people died. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the blast via its Amaq propaganda website. This terrorist attack raised many eyebrows because presence of ISIS or its affiliated terrorist organizations in Pakistan is indeed a terrifying threat for already vulnerable state of Pakistan.

After this heinous blast, Pakistan army has announced to launch operation Radd ul fasad (elimination of discord) to deal with the terrorists. Previously, Pakistan Army has launched operation Zarb e Azb in 2014 in tribal areas and this operation is considered as a successful operation as it helped to bring peace in the country. Unfortunately the period of peace couldn’t stay longer and Pakistan once again comes under the dark clouds of terrorism which is not only a bad omen for long term peace and stability nonetheless, an indicator of the presence of certain loopholes which are required to be investigated.

In this scenario when a new threat that is ISIS is emergent in Pakistan, the need of counter narrative to deal with the ideology of terrorism is indispensible. It is quite evident now that this war against terrorism can’t be win only on battle grounds rather a comprehensive strategy is essential at all levels.  In order of defeat terrorism, ideology of terrorism must be defeated. For this purpose, everyone has to play its due part including government, clergy, media, academia and civil society. Only a united and concrete effort of counter narrative can defeat terrorism entirely.

National Action Plan (NAP) was indeed a mile stone in this regard but regrettably NAP could not be able to give as fruitful results as it was expected due to manifold reasons. Hence more efforts are required to build national narrative and the core aim of this counter narrative must be to de radicalize the society at all levels. The eradication of factors that foster extremist thought and militancy/ terrorism should receive priority.

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