Pakistan and Terror

Recently, Pakistan implemented its own version of the Patriot Act in an effort to combat the unrelenting tide of terrorist activity and attacks in the country.  Additionally, the successful strike on Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud on November 1 in a village of North Waziristan, the announcement of Maulawi Fazlullah as the groups newest leader, and Pakistani government statements on drone strikes in the country have inspired analysts to once again attempt comprehensive examination of terrorism in Pakistan in order to assess how terrorism will trend in the coming years. 

On November 6, noted Pakistani terror expert Stephen Tankel published an outstanding piece at War on the Rocks that analyzed the strike on Mehsud.  Tankel is a Senior Editor at War on the Rocks and is the author of an outstanding book about Lashkar-e-Taiba, a powerful terrorist group in Pakistan noted for carrying out the November 26-29, 2008 attack in Mumbai, India that that killed 166 people (to include attackers) and injured more than 600. Tankel also wrote a very interesting piece on the ‘Pakistanization of Al-Qaeda’, posted to War on the Rocks on October 22. That article is highly recommended.

A book written by Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding, was cited in a recent piece in Bloomberg News as a counterpoint to arguments that claim the drone strikes targeting terrorist leaders in Pakistan violate the sovereignty of the country. In the book, Haqqani writes, ‘My countrymen will someday have to come to terms with global realities. Pakistan cannot become a regional leader in South Asia while it supports terrorism.’ This indictment of Pakistan as complicit in international terrorism, while not new, is important given Mr. Haqqani’s high profile in both the United States and Pakistan.

The Council on Foreign Relations published an outstanding appraisal of Pakistani terrorism on November 18.  The essay breaks down the myriad Pakistani terror groups into several different categories:

  • Sectarian (Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and the Shia Tehrik-e-Jafria)
  • Anti-Indian (Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and Harakat ul-Mujahadeen)
  • Afghan Taliban
  • Al-Qaeda (and affiliates)
  • The Pakistani Taliban (TTP) led by Maulawi Fazlullah
  • Other groups outside of these categories (to include secessionist groups such as the Balochistan Separatist Army)

(Laub, Council on Foreign Relations, November 18)

The author of the piece, Zachary Laub, uses Ashley Tellis’ work as the foundation for the examination. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, does an outstanding job of breaking down the motivations and goals of each group and analyzing how each group may compliment or hinder the goals of other terror groups operating within Pakistan.  Laub assesses how the changing face of terrorism in Pakistan presents challenges to counterterrorism efforts while also examining the recent history of those efforts.  The article can be found here.

Pakistan is likely to continue being an important hub for international terrorism in the coming years.  Key measures taken by the Pakistani government and the international community will be a measuring stick for how well those threats are met and whether they are diminished.

Some more useful links for further reading on the topic are listed below.

Eric Jones
Editor-in-Chief and Senior Analyst

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Eric Jones

Eric Jones

Director, Co-founder, and Editor in Chief at Foreign Intrigue. Eric researches and writes about international affairs and US foreign policy, particularly Europe, Russia, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. You can email Eric at Follow Eric on Twitter via @Intrigue_Jones. Follow Foreign Intrigue on Facebook here: