Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

Terrorism and its ideologies


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 3- Terrorism and related issues

Pakistan is a unique country in the sense that it is both a victim and the perpetrator of terrorism. This article explains the situations which made Pakistan home to the terrorism. So, why some terrorist organisations turned against Pakistan? What are the ideologies followed by various terrorist organisation and how it makes a difference in their functioning? Read to know…

Terrorism paradox of Pakistan: Both Victim and perpetrator

  • This Terrorism paradox can be traced to the deliberate policy of the Pakistani state to create and foster terrorist groups in order to engage in low-intensity warfare with its neighbours.
  • Pakistan first operationalised this strategy in regard to Afghanistan in 1973.
  • And intensified it with the cooperation of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia after the Marxist coup of 1978 after which USSR entered Afghanistan.

Soviet withdrawal and rise in insurgency in Kashmir

  • The Soviet withdrawal in 1989 left the Pakistani military with a large surplus of Islamist fighters that it had trained and armed.
  • Islamabad decided to use this “asset” to intensify the insurgency in the Kashmir Valley.

Radicalisation of Pakistani population

  • The decade-long Afghan “jihad” in Afghanistan had also radicalised a substantial segment of the Pakistani population.
  • Radicalisation was intense in the North-West Frontier Province and Punjab.
  • Sectarian divisions were also on the rise not only between Sunnis and Shias but also among various Sunni sects.
  • The division was intense between two Sunni sects-the puritanical Deobandis and the more syncretic and Sufi-oriented Barelvis.
  • In the process, a number of homegrown terrorist groups emerged that the Pakistan Army co-opted for its use in Kashmir and the rest of India.
  • But, it soon became clear that Pakistan had created a set of Frankenstein’s monsters some of whom turned against their creator.
  • The Musharraf government, under American pressure, decided to collaborate with the latter in the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
  • This resulted in some of the terrorist organisation turning against Pakistan.

Monsters who don’t spare even its creator

  • The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has ideological affinity with the Afghan Taliban.
  • The TTP and its affiliates have fought pitched battles with the Pakistan Army in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of the NWFP.
  • Also, the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has not hesitated to launch terrorist attacks on targets within Pakistan as well, especially against the Shias and Sufi shrines.

Did all terrorist organisation turn against Pakistan?

  • No!
  • Consider the case of ‘loyalist’ LeT.
  • Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), is a classic example of a “loyalist” terrorist organisation that has played by the rules set by the Pakistani military.
  • It only launches attacks on targets outside Pakistan, primarily in India.
  • As the evidence in the case of the Mumbai carnage of 2008 clearly indicates LeT operations are coordinated with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
  • ISI provides it with intelligence and logistical support in addition to identifying specific targets.
  • This is why the LeT and its front organisations have continued to receive the military’s patronage and unstinting support.
  • Consequently, its leader, Hafiz Saeed, was until recently provided protection by the Pakistani state.

Ideological differences

  • Both the LeT and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) have been engaged in attacks on Indian targets identified by Pakistan’s ISI.
  • The difference between LeT and JeM lies in the fact that while the LeT is more pragmatic and less ideological.
  • The JeM is highly ideological and sectarian.
  • JeM draws its ideological inspiration from a very extreme form of Deobandi puritanism.
  • That extreme form considers all those who do not believe in its philosophy beyond the pale of Islam.
  • For many JeM diehards, these include not only Shias and Barelvis but also the Pakistani state and the Pakistani military.
  • LeT on the other hand does not consider Muslims of different theological orientations as non-believers and therefore legitimate targets of attack.
  • This relatively “liberal” interpretation is related to the fact that LeT draws its ideological inspiration from the sect called the Ahl-e-Hadis, which composes only a small proportion of Pakistan’s Muslim population and cannot afford to engage in sectarian conflict.
  • Moreover, it draws its membership from different Muslim sects including the Sufi-oriented Barelvis and the puritanical Deobandis.
  • Both these factors drive LeT toward greater tolerance in sectarian terms and to eschew intra-Islamic theological battles.
  • Its primary goals are political; above all, driving India out of Kashmir.
  • This jells well with the objectives of the Pakistani military and makes LeT and Hafiz Saeed, favourites of the Pakistani establishment.

Consider the question asked by UPSC in 2017-“The scourge of terrorism is a grave challenge to national security. What solution do you suggest to curb this growing menace? What are the major sources of terrorist funding?


The fact that using terrorist outfits for state objectives is a highly risky business whose blowback cannot be predicted and can have very negative consequences for the stability of the state itself.


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