The Metrics of Terrorism and Instability in Pakistan
December 18, 2014
Every American has to sympathize with the Pakistani people in the horror that befell them at the killings of so many school children. Every American parent can imagine the heartbreak of the Pakistani parents who suddenly lost their children for an extremist cause that offers only hatred instead of hope.
It is important, however, to put such acts of terrorism in context and to look at the patterns involved. The Burke Chair has prepared a short briefing showing how the patterns of terrorism in Pakistan compare with those in other states, and the patterns in violence and terrorism in Pakistan from 1970 to 2013, using the Global Terrorism Database that is part of the statistical annex to the US State Department Country reports on terrorism issued in April 2014.
This report is entitled The Metrics of Terrorism and Instability in Pakistan, and is available on the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/files/publication/141218_Pakistan_Terror_Metrics.pdf.
The report shows that the school attacks are part of a sharply rising overall pattern of terrorism in Pakistan that killed and severely wounded over 7,000 people in Pakistan in 2013, and made Pakistan rank second in the world in total terrorist attacks. It also shows that the Pakistani Taliban or TTP is only one of a mix of violent terrorist groups – although many attacks cannot be attributed to a given group and the Pakistani Taliban still ranked 5th in the world in violence in 2013.
At the same time, the number of terrorist incidents has more than doubled each year for the last half decade, and the TTP has clearly been the key perpetrator for those cases, where responsibility was claimed or the source could be identified. The types of attack have become increasingly violent, and more and more targets have been civilians, although much of the killing has also been directed at the police, with explosives and firearms being the key weapon of choice.
Other data from sources such as the World Bank indicate that part of this terrorism has been resulted as a response to poor governance, a lack of political stability, weak rule of law, and high rates of corruption. The UN shows that little recent progress has been made in human development, and poverty levels are very high. There are serious barriers to business investment, and corruption is rated high by Transparency International as well as the World Bank.
It is clear from these numbers that Pakistani security forces need to steadily increase their focus on counterterrorism, and the level of prioritization and political effort necessary will only come about if Pakistan reduces its tensions with India and Afghanistan. It is equally clear that Pakistan needs to address some of the key causes of terror and instability, like poor governance, corruption, problems in its rule of law, and poverty, as well as counter the twisted religious and ideological message of groups like the LLT by asserting the real values of moderation and Islam.