Terrorism in Pakistan has a devastating impact, both in terms of lives lost and long-term social effects. And, they continue to affect the country. The ongoing threat of terrorism has had a profound impact on the Pakistani people’s psychological, societal, and economic well-being. From trauma and fear to mental health issues, loss of community cohesion, and discrimination, the social impacts of terrorism in Pakistan are far-reaching and deeply felt. These effects are not limited to those directly affected by terrorist attacks, but also extend to the broader population. It is important to acknowledge and understand these impacts in order to combat terrorism effectively and provide support to those affected by it.
II. What the Social Impacts of Terrorism Are?
i) Increase in Discrimination and Hate Crimes
One of the most significant social impacts of terrorism in Pakistan is an increase in discrimination and hate crimes against certain groups and individuals. This can include discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, and nationality, among others. This has led to a sense of isolation and insecurity among members of the community. And, it is further exacerbating the impact of terrorism on their lives.
Case in Point: The minority Hazara community in Pakistan has been targeted by terrorist groups. This is resulting in increased discrimination and hate crimes against them. Moreover, the crime index of Pakistan has seen little improvement over the years from 58.71 in 2012 to 36.4 in 2023.
ii) Simmering Poverty & Unemployment
Poverty and unemployment have always been correlated and they will. The threat of terrorism has a negative impact on the country’s economy. It leads to a loss of tourism and foreign investment, damage to infrastructure and businesses, and an increase in poverty and unemployment. The poverty rate in Pakistan has increased dramatically as a result of the insecurity caused by terrorism, and many people have lost their jobs or been unable to find work.
Additionally, due to the insecurity caused by terrorism, many international companies have left the country. This is eventually causing unemployment and poverty. Those who have lost their jobs as a result of terrorism have been forced to rely on government support or turn to informal work, further exacerbating poverty.
Case in Point: Many residents of the FATA region have lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of terrorist operations. It is leading to a significant increase in poverty and unemployment. Many businesses have also been forced to close, further exacerbating the problem. Additionally, the lack of infrastructure and development in the region has made it difficult for people to find work. And, it is also leading to a high rate of poverty and unemployment.
iii) Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia
Another social impact of terrorism in Pakistan is the increase in ethnocentrism and xenophobia. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own culture or ethnic group is superior to others. On the other hand, xenophobia is the fear or hatred of foreigners or those perceived as being different. These attitudes can be exacerbated by terrorism. It is because people may feel threatened by those who are perceived as being connected to terrorist groups.
Case in Point: One specific example is the targeting of the Ahmadi community. The Ahmadiyya community is a minority Muslim sect that has faced persecution and discrimination in Pakistan for many years. They have been targeted by extremist groups and have faced violence, intimidation, and hate crimes as a result.
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iv) An Adverse Impact on Sports and Recreational Activities
Terrorism has led to the cancellation or postponement of many sports and recreational events in Pakistan. We can see it in canceling cricket and hockey matches, due to security concerns. This has led to a decline in the number of people participating in sports and recreational activities. Moreover, we can see it as a loss of revenue for sports organizations and businesses.
Additionally, many sports facilities and stadiums have been damaged or destroyed as a result of terrorist attacks. It is further limiting the ability of people to participate in sports and recreational activities. These facilities are important for not only sports and physical activities but also for social and mental well-being. Their destruction has had a significant impact on the communities that rely on them.
Case in Point: In 2009, the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked by terrorists while on tour in Lahore. Several players were injured and several police officers were killed. This attack led to the cancellation of all international cricket matches in Pakistan for several years, and many teams refused to tour the country due to security concerns
v) Aggravation of the Plight of Pakistani Women
Women have been disproportionately affected by the ongoing threat of terrorism in Pakistan. It is because they are often the most vulnerable members of society. Terrorism has led to a decline in the number of women participating in public life, as they may feel too afraid or insecure to leave their homes. This has led to a decline in women’s participation in the workforce, education, and politics, further exacerbating gender inequalities.
Terrorism has also led to an increase in violence against women, as they are often targeted by extremist groups. Women have been subjected to physical and sexual abuse, forced marriages, and honor killings as a result of terrorism. This has led to a decline in the number of women who are able to access justice and receive protection.
Case in Point: One prominent example, in this case, is Malala Yousufzai. She was subjected to physical abuse by terrorists and was shot in the head. Luckily, she survived and pursued her dreams.
Way Forward: How to Reduce?
There are several ways in which the social impacts of terrorism in Pakistan can be reduced:
- Addressing the root causes of terrorism: This includes tackling poverty, unemployment, and political and economic inequality, as well as addressing the underlying social and political issues that can fuel terrorism.
- Providing support and services to those affected by terrorism: This includes providing psychological support, medical care, and financial assistance to those who have been directly affected by terrorist attacks.
- Building community resilience: This includes promoting community cohesion, supporting local organizations and initiatives, and encouraging people to work together to combat terrorism.
- Enhancing education and awareness: This includes educating people about the dangers of terrorism and the importance of tolerance and understanding. It also includes raising awareness about the negative impact of terrorism on society and providing information about how to report suspicious activity.
- Improving security measures: This includes implementing effective security measures to protect against terrorist attacks and to provide a sense of security for the population.
- Developing a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy: This includes developing a comprehensive strategy that addresses the various aspects of terrorism, including its causes, its impacts, and its consequences. This strategy should be based on a comprehensive understanding of the problem, and it should be implemented in a coordinated and well-planned way.
- Encouraging dialogue and reconciliation: This includes promoting dialogue and reconciliation between different ethnic and religious groups and encouraging people to work together to combat terrorism.