Muhammad Nadeem Bhatti - The world is currently confronting terrorism in different manifestations. After the 9/11 terrorist events, the phenomenon of terrorism has abruptly changed the socio-economic and geopolitical situation of the world. Terrorist groups have linkages with each other and are utilising each other’s areas for recruitment and training, exchanging illegal weapons, engaging in joint planning and ventures and also providing administrative and other logistic supports. Pakistan is also facing the menace of terrorism which is eroding the country’s social structure, economic development and political system. The acts of terrorism are threatening Pakistan’s law and order situation, violating the human rights of the citizens, damaging basic infrastructure and economic opportunities.

The immediate costs of terrorist acts are loss of human lives, destruction of property and infrastructure and curtailment of short-term economic activity. Additionally, terrorism creates uncertainty, reduces confidence and increases risk perceptions; leading to lower rates of investment and lower economic growth. In fact, Pakistan has not only lost precious lives and infrastructure; according to official estimates. Pakistan’s economic growth came to a near halt at around 2.00 per cent in fiscal year2009, not only as a result of the global financial crisis, but also because of internal issues. These included a war on terror launched by security forces in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas bordering on Afghanistan, and the resultant displacement of some three million people from their homes. Both the war on terror and the rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons consumed a big chunk of the government’s financial resources, thus widening the fiscal deficit and halting economic growth. Pakistan has suffered more than any other country due to the war on terror.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has done very good job to bring investment of China for the radiant future of the economy of Pakistan. But due to the problems of suicide attacks in schools and markets are developing problems for the betterment of Pakistan. So, with the threat of terrorism, normal business requires more time and extra security. Thus, terrorism leads to a general slowdown in economic activity. Actually, the soft image is like a cashable commodity, as it is an important source for attracting foreign direct investments. The frequent incidents of terrorism have given a bad name to Pakistan in the world and international markets. Terrorism has damaged the economy and society of Pakistan, on multiple levels. Against this background, recognising and estimating the cost of terrorism is an extremely difficult exercise. Moreover, the absence of primary data makes the task even more challenging. The present study should thus be treated as an attempt at filling the knowledge gap in this area, encouraging more sophisticated analyses for better frameworks, and conflict cost estimates. The paper focuses on the economic cost of terrorism in Pakistan in a multi-dimensional perspective. While highlighting the impact of terrorism on GDP growth, it also takes into account the impact on FDI and tourism, along with the social sector. Assessing the economic cost of terrorism is a very difficult exercise. The terrorist attacks have imposed a number of significant costs on individuals, societies and the State, and have thereby substantially changed the economic and social structure of the country.

Education is another very important way to eradicate the root causes of terrorism. The first step should be to provide uniform system of education to the masses. This system of education must be free from prejudices and sectarian violence. It also includes both religious and modern education at equal ratios. This will help create citizens having a balanced approach towards life. Although it is a very lengthy process but it is very important, because we need to clear the minds of young generation about the extreme designs of terrorist organisations.

Good governance is another area which needed more attention in this regard. The important work in this regard which has been done so far is only to equip security personnel’s with latest weapons and to increase their salaries, and compensation in case of casualties. But policy makers of Pakistan (after entering into the dangerous war on terror) did not create a suitable mechanism through which terrorism can effectively be checked. For example, there is no clear data of people residing in the country. There is no check and balance on foreigner’s activities in the country. There is no effective way to check cross border terrorism from Afghanistan and Indian side. There is not sufficient training mechanism for security personnel’s to counter terrorist organisations plots. There is still time our intelligence and law and order agencies can start door to door campaign for checking and registration. Therefore in Lahore Multan Chungi (sabzi mandi) Iqbal Town division and Timber Market Sadar division areas are the main hub of criminal minded people which come from other areas for criminal activities.

(The writer is Chairman Federation Pakistan Chamber Garments).