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“Terrorism Anywhere is Terrorism Everywhere”

October 18, 2009

With Democrats weary of our engagement in the Af-Pak region becoming a Vietnam-esque quagmire, Republican’s remain hesitant to cut and run but public support is dwindling at just 40% for what Obama once said was our “war of necessity”. Apparently the “necessity” of this war is now shifted to the Pakistan front. BBC has a brief, but powerful article on how critical this war is to Pakistan by documenting thoughts of everyday citizens on the military’s recent offensive against terrorists. The piece reveals young men and women resoundingly support militarily obliterating insurgents who have spilled over from Afghanistan. But what is most pressing is the human element the article brings as we learn the unity with which each citizen describes the “fear” and “stresses” that have crept into their daily lives. Terrorism has brought a dangerous anxiety to Pakistan that didn’t exist prior to 9/11.

I was in Karachi on 9/11 and stayed for a few weeks before coming back to California. I remember President Musharraff coining the notion “Pehla Pakistan” (Pakistan First) and explaining the country would support the United States in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan because that was the right thing to do for Pakistan. But mostly I recall feeling sad, gripped: I stayed up all night on 9/11 watching footage and listening to news, not completely understanding what was happening. I was deeply saddened, yet not immediately scared. Sadness resounded minus physical fear because I was immediately safe. Pakistan was for the most part safe from terrorist activity. The Daniel Pearl incident was frightening, but it was well known that Al Qaeda had no significant presence or intent to attack within Pakistan. The BBC article today reveals a much different, severely deteriorated Pakistan.

News stories have kept me abreast of countless suicide attacks against civilians, but this particular article leaves me stunned. Again, I’m not immediately scared because I’m physically away from terrorists, but realizing that our efforts after 9/11 have not thwarted terrorists from attacking again is still saddening. Instead, terrorists continue to grip the daily lives of innocent civilians 8 years later. Secretary Clinton said “terrorism anywhere is terrorism everywhere” and that’s difficult to argue with today.

Looking beyond the fact that Pakistan is strategically poised to serve our geopolitical energy interests through Central Asia and is a good ally to have in the face of an ascending China, there’s a profound humanitarian reason to aid Pakistan in this situation.

Secretary Clinton’s remarks are reminiscent of her husbands policies. Former President Clinton’s doctrine can partially be defined as American intervention in even the most remote, far away regions for the sake of humanity which ultimately serves greater international interest (think American intervention in Bosnia). In a similar way, citizens living in constant fear beseeches us to address a perpetually devastated Afghanistan and an increasingly crippled Pakistan with a long term strategy of ensuring that terrorism is not just obliterated, but uprooted.

The difference between obliterating and uprooting terrorism is one of time. Obliterating a few thousand Taliban/Al Qaeda might be accomplished swiftly with a major Pakistan & US military offensive, through the heightened use of drones, and a stepped up counterinsurgency. But that runs a risk of tremendous collateral damage which can impoverish and ultimately isolate moderates against Pakistani and US forces. The situation is already being described as a “civil war” and a short term, merely military strategy runs the costly risk of hurting our long term plan of engaging Pakistan diplomatically (we have plans of creating massive embassies in the north). Uprooting terrorism on the other hand requires a longer term engagement because it involves  ‘winning hearts and minds“.

Winning hearts and minds can be achieved through sustainable economic development that tangibly alleviates pain for people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. An American hand in such development ultimately eliminates reasons for people to join terrorists who harbor anti-American ambitions.

The Kerry Lugar bill is a fair attempt at  addressing this issue, but fails to realize that in Pakistan, the military has historically and relative to civilian governments, been fairly efficient at achieving development in tandem with security. So while Democrats and Republicans debate the time frame for our engagement in the Af-Pak war, I think Obama’s administration should begin a U.S. strategy from the premise of uprooting terrorism. It’s no longer just about retributive justice of  “smoking them out” as Former President Bush put it. This war is expanding internationally at the expense of innocent civilians who increasingly fear, rather than welcome American assistance . Our strategy should aim to remove terrorists for the long haul, ensuring allies like Pakistan are securely comprised 0f  prosperous, welcoming citizens.

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12 comments

  1. [...] brings me back to how imperative it is that Pakistani and US forces focus on uprooting and not just obliterating terrorists. Pakistan is home to the worlds 6th largest population, and the second largest Muslim country. [...]


  2. [...] brings me back to how imperative it is that Pakistani and US forces focus on uprooting and not just obliterating terrorists. Pakistan is home to the worlds 6th largest population, and the second largest Muslim country. [...]


  3. this is ridiculous that we are still expecting something good from the americans. Americans are loyal to themselves. This is what Allah Loves. We people are even not sincere to ourselves. Thats why we are suffering.Pakistan should balance the situation. Take benefits from both China and America. But try to survive. She will earn more due to her geostrategic situation.


  4. [...] India forges ahead economically and internationally, Pakistan is deteriorating. Terrorism has brought vanishing security that has perpetually halted foreign investment, [...]


  5. [...] “Terrorism Anywhere is Terrorism Everywhere” [...]


  6. [...] Person of the Year: Unfortunately, the Terrorist. Al Qaeda militants who spilled over from the nebulous Afghan-Pakistan border have gripped the country and sadly had major impact on the lives of innocent civilians. Brazen, unprecedented violence in the form of suicide attacks on public shopping areas, children’s schools and even Mosques demonstrate how the terrorist paralyzed Pakistan in 2009. [...]


  7. [...] Person of the Year: Unfortunately, the Terrorist. Al Qaeda militants who spilled over from the nebulous Afghan-Pakistan border have gripped the country and sadly had major impact on the lives of innocent civilians. http://zainyjee.wordpress.com/2009/10/21…#mce_temp_url#in the form of suicide attacks on public shopping areas, children’s schools and even Mosques demonstrate how the terrorist paralyzed Pakistan in 2009. [...]


  8. [...] horror. In my lifetime, Pakistan has never suffered such widespread violence and insecurity. I’ve already written about the deteriorating state of affairs post 9/11, so today i’ll share a links to a BBC slideshow and article capturing the recent atrocities [...]


  9. [...] my lifetime, Pakistan has suffered it’s most widespread violence and insecurity post 9/11. I’ve already written about the deteriorating state of affairs,  so today i’ll share links to a BBC slideshow and article capturing the recent atrocities [...]


  10. [...] Imran Mudassar. The following video briefly takes us into some of his recent works that depict deteriorating security, and amplified militarism that torments his [...]


  11. [...] Imran Mudassar. The following video briefly takes us into some of his recent works that depict deteriorating security, and amplified militarism that torments his [...]


  12. [...] a country that’s flooded by pain and suffering of natural disaster, plus the torment of an unnatural flood of arms, and terrorism. To top it off your home turf is off limits because of lacking security and you’re playing [...]



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