Pakistan has shown up rather late when it comes to policy making on counter terrorism. Keeping in view the impact of damage it has caused to the nation, a comprehensive and goal-oriented planning to eradicate the most notorious of issues in Pakistan has not taken roots in neither the government nor the governed. Reasons to the effect are several; from political to religious and foreign to social, however, more than 70,000 innocent lives have been lost in years following 9/11, especially because Pakistan had opted to become party to the US-led fight against terrorism, while meager efforts to curb the domestic spread of terrorism provoking ideologies and terrorism itself.

Pakistan has undergone several anti terrorism related legislation. One of the earliest that could be recalled is Suppression of Terrorist Activities Ordinance passed in 1975 enacted by Z A Bhutto. As a matter of fact, the international threat paradigm has changed completely which has subsequently made it necessary to pass laws far stringent, proactive and highly result-oriented to counter menace of ideological extremism in Pakistan.

It took about 14 years for Pakistan’s state to establish the realisation that terrorism is fatal for the nation; therefore, the need for a policy is vital. National Internal Security Policy is a detailed and a sensible policy that decipher the possible problems in the system. NISP divides the plan for countering terrorism into two parts, Comprehensive Deterrence Plan and Comprehensive Response Plan. Comprehensive Deterrence Plan focuses on rehabilitation of people who have become victim of terrorism, or those who have relocated as IDPs due to anti terrorism operations in the region, however, the most necessary of all deterrence could only be achieved through development of a unanimous nation-wide anti terrorism narrative.

Terrorism and counterterrorism is offered as a degree programme around the world in various universities under distinctive departments or centers established in order to conduct research and to offer courses exclusively in the field of terrorism and counterterrorism. Terrorism is undoubtedly one of the most referred to and discussed area in realms of politics within Pakistan as per the relevance with domestic and global security and political developments. It will be safe to say that the question of terrorism is at the centre of international relations today. However, at the apex of this center lies Pakistan, keeping in view current unveiling  of US state policy for South Asia under Trump regime, Pakistan has been alleged of harbouring terrorist safe havens within its territorial boundaries, which subsequently places Pakistani nation into a position of dichotomy. Pakistan faces the challenge of addressing misconceptions regarding the country’s association with terrorism, and on the other hand, the challenge of actually fighting terrorism internally.

However, it is strange that large number of population in Pakistan is not aware of the meaning of terrorism, or to be more elaborative they are unable to identify an act of violence as an act of 'terrorism' or not-an-act-of-terrorism, therefore it makes terrorism a completely confusing idea to grasp, and an unrecognizable phenomena as a whole, consequently leading lay men with meager knowledge about the phenomena fall prey to the terrorist ideologies portrayed as a legitimate way to acquire socio-political goals.

Two steps need to be taken in order to address this dichotomy, firstly, development of a counter narrative against the global narrative directed towards Pakistan in order to enlighten the efforts the state has made for countering terrorism both domestically and internationally, secondly, restructuring of national narrative against terrorism within the country, and formation of a unified national strategy.

International Counter-Terrorism Law is taught at the Harvard Law School USA, as part of degree programme in Law, the course focuses on variety of different aspects of terrorism and counter terrorism post and pre-September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.  Case studies from Australia and other counterterrorism laws are highlighted in order to understand counterterrorism in depth. Similarly, there are various universities in United Kingdom which offer Masters Degree programmes in terrorism and counterterrorism

Universities in Pakistan extensively study terrorism as part of their courses on governance, conflict resolution and political science, however, a well sought out curriculum specifically for a course to be offered for awareness regarding counterterrorism is scarce. National Internal Security Policy (NISP), and National Action Plan ( NAP) passed respectively and unanimously in 2014 and 2015 also emphasis on the need to establish role of civil society, academia and other social  institutions in order to solidify counterterrorism at the grass root.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has recently conceded to what the world has been reiterating since a while, for Pakistan to focus on domestic, home-based terrorist organisations as far as counterterrorism is concerned, or in other words, Pakistan needs to place their own house in order, while also countering challenges associated with cross border terrorism. The international narrative on Pakistan’s unresolved relationship with terrorism is also identified as a cause of regional, bilateral and multilateral resentments and skirmishes, specifically emphasized upon by traditional rival, India. With such challenge at hand be, it requires to be countered with a generation well informed about the most paralyzing dilemma faced by the country since last two decades.

During BRICs summit held in India lately, where countries unanimously pointed towards Pakistan, including China as a country which is a source of terrorism in the region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared Pakistan as “mother ship” of terrorism, weeks after India called Pakistan the “Ivy League of terrorism” at the United Nations.

There is a dire need for a national narrative for countering the international onslaught against Pakistan headed by the Indian interests. On the other hand, an equally unifying national narrative in order to counter internal challenges like sectarian violence, minority persecution which emanate from the core sentiments of extremism is required for the success of national counterterrorism efforts. 

However, there are not enough well-organised courses to achieve the goals, especially the ones with an aim to make counterterrorism a national cause.

Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore has initiated a course titled “terrorism and counterterrorism” with a curriculum duly planned to teach both the theory on terrorism and the policies passed by the Pakistan’s parliament and their implementation for counterterrorism. The BS degree in Political Science includes the course on counterterrorism for the students to realise their role as stakeholders and an important part of the solution to the national issue, and to be able to recognize the problem that has caused the nation a great loss over the period of time.

Similarly, Minhaj University under the School of Peace and Counterterrorism Studies has initiated a degree programme at both the BS and Masters Level, in which courses are duly planned to study both the international perspectives and Pakistan’s question of terrorism.

The role of media and civil society, and the public in general is at the core of counterterrorism as terrorism is always directed at causing polarization and confusion among the people to achieve the goals. Therefore, it is high time public’s role should be established as the most imperative entity in the war against terrorism.