Shah Faisal Afridi

Pakistan is facing the menace of terrorism which is eroding the country’s social structure, economic development and political system. . During the last 13 years, the direct and indirect cost incurred by Pakistan on the war on terror and the losses due to terrorist attacks amounted to $102.51 billion. The acts of terrorism are threatening Pakistan’s law and order situation, violating human rights of the citizens, damaging basic infrastructure and economic opportunities.

“The recent Terror attack was nonetheless a senseless act of unspeakable brutality that claimed lives of the most innocent of human beings - young children in their school”. The bloodiest attack exposed the “real face of terrorism”. “This was an attack of savage brutality which targeted innocent children in their place of study.”Perpetrators of this “act of terror” must be brought to justice.”No words can express the ignominy of such an attack against children in their school”.

“Such incidents of terrorism disrupt Pakistan’s normal domestic, economic and trading activities which not only result in higher costs of business but also create commotion in the production cycles, resulting in significant delays in meeting the export orders around the globe. As a result, Pakistani products lose their market share to their competitors. Additionally, terrorism creates uncertainty, reduces confidence and increases risk perceptions; leading to lower rates of investment and lower economic growth

Currently Pakistan needs enormous resources to enhance productive capacity of the economy by repairing damaged infrastructure and to create a favorable investment climate. “We are trying to protect whatever we have. “We are coping with several other issues, like energy crunch, constraining exports and this problem of terrorism threatening to take us down, the economic cost of terrorism and the war against militancy is considerably high and its impact is going to be felt long after it is over and done with.”

Security situation is the key determinant of future flow of the investment because Productivity and growth decline in areas where the threat of terrorism escalates, when terrorists strike consumer and business confidence weakens. “Sales slump, production tumbles and investment stops,” and some of these things are already taking place.

Due to such terrorist acts and security threats not only the foreign investors terminate their projects and investments but also the residents of Pakistan and the national investors prefer  investing and taking their money out of the country in more safe countries like UK, USA, Middle East and Europe. Money, which is being invested outside instead of being invested in Pakistan, cause harm to the economy of the country and consequently economic growth slowdown.

Terrorism is considered as one of the biggest threat to the economy of the country because it is adversely affecting businesses and production units the manufacturing sector has been hard hit by political instability and frequent incidents of terrorism. The manufacturing sector is witnessing the lowest-ever share of 18.2 per cent in the GDP over the last five years. In addition, the small and medium-size enterprises are a key area of manufacturing activity in Pakistan, particularly in the war-affected areas. Power looms, precious and semi-precious stone mining, wood and marble work, and small units of consumer items are affected across the country because of power shortages and frequent terrorist attacks.

Agriculture is the main source of revenue in most of the terrorism-affected areas, including FATA and NWFP. People in these areas rely predominantly on agriculture as their main economic activity. Swat has 98,100 hectares arable land, while 408,175 hectares remain uncultivable .Swat was a training centre for budding and grafting of plants and nursery industry was on the rise. But, due to the insurgency, the Swat valley has been subjected to continuous attacks .that resulted in agriculture loss amounts to Rs. 35 billion. That has been due to various factors, including hostilities, artillery shelling, blowing of bridges in bomb blasts, blockade of roads, attacks, and curfews. The breakdown in law and order has damaged the district’s fruit-based economy and rendered billions of rupees losses to the landowners, labourers, dealers and farmers who earn their livelihood from these orchards.

The NWFP Department of Education reports that education for students has been severly affected because of damaged or destroyed schools. That includes 65 per cent of the schools. Moreover; it is not just girls’ schools that have been targeted. More than 42 per cent of boys’ schools were also destroyed. According to some estimates, nearly 150,000 students have been deprived of education, while 8,000 female teachers are without jobs due to the insurgency.

We should not lose hope and should stand united against the scourge of terrorism. Pakistan is from among the bravest and greatest nations of the world. Pakistan has paid a heavy price in the war against terrorism and rendered more sacrifices than any other nation.

Government should devise a plan to minimize the counter effects of terrorism.  In the first stage, the government must strive to stabilize the troubled areas with the support of the local people. In the second stage, the government should start infrastructural development and later on industrialization in the troubled regions by utilizing their natural resources. As a result, people would not only get employment but would participate directly in the development of the country. Plus, their sense of economic deprivation would be reduced. The international community should also help Pakistan not only in the form of financial assistance, but also in building and investing in economic zones in these areas.

Since the troubled region of NWFP, particularly the Malakand Division, has geo-strategic importance, it can be used as a trade route for China and Central Asia. More importantly, the people of Malakand have proven their patriotism but there remains the need for political vigilance so that exploitative actors do not use them for spreading terror and destabilizing the country. Through awareness campaign the government would be able to remove any uncertainty among the people of this region.

Terrorism is the principal source of instability in Pakistan. There needs to be consensus building on the issue at the national level among the political, religious, bureaucratic and army leadership. But it should be clearly on a one-point agenda: against extremism. Moreover, it is necessary to take regional countries in confidence. Essentially, both regional and national stability are necessary if terrorism is to be tackled and if the economic cost of terrorism is to be reduced.

(The writer is PCJCCI president and CEO of Haier Ruba group)