Do You Think There is Difference Between Terrorism and Violent Extremism?

The majority of Pakistanis understand that ‘Terrorism’ and ‘Violent Extremism’ are two separate concepts. This assertion is made on the basis of the result of an online survey conducted by the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies where the audience was posed with the question, ‘Do you think that there is a difference between terrorism and violent extremism?’

72 percent of respondents opined that yes there is indeed a difference, whereas 28 percent disagreed. As a part of gauging public opinion on matters of national importance, CPGS regularly conducts surveys on topics of national interest.

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There is often confusion at a conceptual level where the terms of ‘terrorism’ and ‘violent extremism’ are utilized, and more often than not, the two terms are used interchangeably. However, there is a significant difference, and one that has an impact on the counter-strategies being developed at the national level. Despite 14 years of the War against Terrorism, a consensus on a universal definition of what this ‘terrorism’ is comprised of exactly has not been achieved. Historically, terrorism has always, in one form or another, been used as a political tool to further specific socio-political and economic ends and objectives.

To highlight the contrast between terrorism and violent extremism, it is useful to note that terrorism is broadly denoted as the practice of intimidation through violence, including killing and destruction of property etc., to achieve a political objective. Violent extremism, on the other hand, is identified as a broader political ideology that stands against the moderate, centric values and norms of a society in order to change the said values, culture or belief systems of a certain area by any means, including violence. It includes terrorism as well as other forms of politically motivated and communal violence.

A significant majority of people who took part in the CPGS Poll ‘Do you think the security situation in Karachi has improved as a result of the ongoing operations?’ have agreed with the assertion that the security situation has in fact improved significantly.

To gauge public opinion across Pakistan on issues of national interest, Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies conducts opinion polls on its site. In response to this most recent question, an overwhelming majority of 97% of Pakistanis have indicated their agreement, while 2.99% disagreed.

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The Karachi operation, which started on September 5, 2013, is an attempt to clamp down on terrorists, target killers, extortionists, land-grabbers, militant gangs and the criminal elements linked with political parties in Karachi. In 2013 alone, 3200 people were killed in targeted killings, but since the start of the operations, these killings in the city have been reduced by more than 43 percent.  During the Karachi Operation, Pakistan Rangers have conducted 5795 operations across Karachi apprehending 10,353 suspects, out of which 4995 were handed over to the Police. Moreover, Rangers have also captured 826 terrorists, 334 target killers and 26 extortionists.

The Sindh government has approved an extension of one year for the Pakistan Rangers to continue with the operation and eliminate, once and for all, the terrorist and criminal elements from Karachi  that have held the city hostage for so long.

Iran Deal

By Abdul Ghafoor

Apr 22, 2015

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It is often said that Pak-China ties are ‘deeper than the ocean and higher than the Himalayas’. Recently these ties have superseded all such theoretical metaphors, particularly in light of the visit by the Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping to Pakistan, and the numerous Memorandums that were signed during this stay.

Pakistan and China have signed over 51 MoUs worth $46 billion in areas of energy and infrastructure; work on these projects is expected to commence immediately. Chinese investment in Pakistan comes at a time when it is vitally important, and it has quickly entirely overshadowed the intermittent US economic aid, given to Pakistan over a long period of 10-15 years.

These investments will greatly help Pakistan in overcoming its rising energy-shortage issues that have been the foremost irritant in preventing the growth of commercial industry in Pakistan. With enough energy, Pakistan can enhance its exports significantly and generate higher jobs. Furthermore, the Gwadar port of Pakistan will become an economic center for South and Central Asia. The port will become an important refueling center for trade cargoes moving towards the South East and the Far East.

The Chinese investment in Pakistan is a part of China’s Grand Strategy to maturate its comparatively underdeveloped western areas and bring them at par with eastern China. Besides this, the Chinese are committed to diversifying their energy corridors and rendering their energy security invulnerable.

The trade corridor will give China closer access to the resources of the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and Africa. Secondly, China has developed very close ties with Central Asian Republics, whose resources could be exploited and exported westward via Gwadar. Above all else, the Chinese efforts to connect Pakistan, Afghanistan, and CARs in a close-knit economic web will entail stability and prosperity for the region, and is therefore in the best interests of all states in the region.

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Islamabad, March 10, 2015: Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India have met in Islamabad in a bid to resume talks between the two countries. India’s Foreign Secretary, Subrahmanyan Jaishankar, arrived in Islamabad on March 5, 2015, and called on his counterpart, Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry. Pakistan describes this development as an “ice break”. Both the states are expected to resume talks on a multiple range of issues; including the Kashmir dispute, terrorism, border disputes and economic relations.

Aizaz Chaudhry said that issues ranging from India’s interference in Balochistan, the Samjhota Express case, and the line of control (LoC) ceasefire violations were brought under discussion. “We also raised the issue of delay in the Samjhota Express investigation. No investigation details on the incident have been shared with us by India. Terrorism is not only Pakistan’s concern, but both countries are equally affected by it. We both have an understanding to fight and end terrorism. We are working to find a common ground from where we can start our joint efforts,” he added.

Foreign Affairs advisor to the Prime Minister, Sartaj Aziz, has stated that Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is likely to visit Pakistan next year to attend the summit meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries.

Foreign Office spokesperson, Tasnim Aslam, has, meanwhile, dispelled the view that was circulating in some section of media that the meeting has failed. She stated in her weekly briefing that she would not like to characterize it as a failure. “We said that it is a visit that is taking place in lieu of the August visit as an icebreaker. It is a process,” she added.

It is important to note that, during the stalemate, there was unprovoked firing and shelling by India across the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, claiming several lives and forced many to leave their homes in fear. In August last year, India cancelled the scheduled secretary level bilateral meeting in protest against a Pakistan diplomat’s in meeting in New Delhi with Kashmiri Hurriyat Conference leaders.

The Treaty for Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), concluded in 1970, is considered to be the cornerstone of the Global Non-Proliferation Regime (NNPR); with a total of 189 member states. According to the stipulations of the treaty, a Review conference is convened every five years to review progress on the treaty since 1975. After its indefinite extension in 1995, the treaty has carried out two successful Review Conferences (RevCons) in the years 2000 and 2010.

In the last RevCon in 2010, a 64-point plan was adopted by the states parties that led to the success of the conference in coming up with a consensus. The final document outlined follow-on actions alongside recommendations in areas of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy and implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East. The non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) associated great importance to the issue of the convening of Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) Conference in the Middle East, in determining the future success of the NPT. The next review conference, supposed to be convened from 27 April to 22 May 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York, would mark twentieth anniversary of the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 RevCon.

However, the fulfillment of the disarmament obligations of nuclear weapon states (NWS) as well as progress on convening a NWFZ conference in the Middle East serve as challenges to the upcoming conference. Moreover, the current geo-political crisis over Russian annexation of Crimea has exposed the underlying rifts between Russia, the U.S., and its Western allies. A resurgent Russia would not bode well for the future of bilateral nuclear arms reduction efforts vis-a-vis the United States. Resultantly; one can also notice trends in the U.S., unlike President Obama’s vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, moving away from reduced salience of nuclear weapons in its security policy to that of an enhanced stature of these weapons. The U.S. plan of modernising its nuclear arsenal over a period of three decades costing an awful 1.1 trillion is a case in point.

Not much needs to be said about the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation and access to dual-use nuclear technologies and how it undermines the global norms for the nuclear non-proliferation regime. In a recent turn of events, the U.S. withdrew from its commitment of tracking nuclear fuel supplied to India to be used for civilian purposes only. This move would not only undermine the non-proliferation regime by obliging an outlier state to proliferate without any ensuing check and balance, but would also seriously damage the regional deterrence by accentuating Pakistan’s concerns on vertical proliferation by India. Finally, the negotiations on Iran have to show some optimism for a prospective agreement over limiting its enrichment program, to set the stage for the 2015 RevCon.

Raheel visit

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif left for China on a two-day visit on Saturday, January 24, 2015. His visit to China has to be viewed in a series of visits, as from November till now, he has visited Afghanistan (November 7), the USA (November 16), Afghanistan (December 17) and the UK (January 14, 2015) to present Pakistan’s position and resolve against the terrorists internationally. His visits hold strategic importance as the U.S./NATO mission in Afghanistan has officially come to conclusion and the coming days will decide the future of Afghanistan and the region.

Raheel Sharif’s visit to China also coincided with the U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India. In his visit, he met with his Chinese counterpart, General Qi Jianguo, and discussed regional, security and defence-related issues. He also met China’s Central Military Commission Vice Chairman, General Fan Changlong, in Beijing.

General Fan showed solidarity with Pakistan and praised Operation Zarb-e-Azb by referring to the operation as a decisive, bold and hard blow for terrorists. He said Pakistan and China are strategic partners and most important neighbours and ‘iron brothers’. The two countries agreed to enhance their long-term defence relationship as well as counter-terrorism cooperation.

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The U.S. President, Barak Obama, reached India on Sunday, January 25, 2015 to discuss issues of bilateral importance. During the visit, the U.S. and India agreed to remove the mutual obstacles from the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal. The U.S. agreed to remove the tracking clause from the deal, on account of which the United States could track the whereabouts of the nuclear materials supplied to India under the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement. Reciprocally, India agreed to withdraw the Indian Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 (CLNDA) which puts liability of nuclear accident on the supplier states, in case it happens in a nuclear plant.

The CLNDA was passed after the debate over Bhopal accident took place on the eve of Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement. In the city of Bhopal located in central India, on December 3, 1984, methylisocyanate (MIC) gas leaked from a plant owned, managed and operated by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL). According to official statistics, about 5,000 people died and several thousand other individuals suffered permanent or partial disabilities.

Both the states are expected to sign a deal on climate change aimed at reducing the consumption of carbon emitting fuel.

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