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Insurrection, Terrorism, and the Pakistan Army

Published:
10 December 2009
Region:
Asia
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Insurrection, Terrorism, and the Pakistan Army

There are two main domestic challenges facing the Pakistan army: the insurgency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and other extremist violence throughout the country. The two eruptions are promoted by criminally fanatical groups who have been cooperating to extend terrorism with the aim of destroying Pakistan’s limping democracy. The army, as directed by the government, has the Constitutional duty “to defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, to act in aid of the civil power when called upon to do so.” Its military operations within Pakistan, in FATA, North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan are therefore lawful providing they continue to be under the control of the ‘civil power.’ Although the army has been stretched thin and has had to make many alterations to its war-fighting posture and training, it has succeeded in effectively conducting counterinsurgency operations in difficult terrain in FATA/NWFP. The stability that has been restored thus far, however, depends for its continuation on a blend of military ascendancy and energetic social and economic development aimed at bringing the tribal areas into the 21st century and providing reasonable employment opportunities for youth. The overall picture in Pakistan is sombre. The army is regarded as a bastion of reliability by most of the population, but it is disturbing that a survey in late 2009 found that “An overwhelming majority of young Pakistanis say their country is headed in the wrong direction . . . and only 1 in 10 has confidence in the government . The report included the disquieting findings that “The highest-ranking institution was considered to be Pakistan’s military. Sixty percent of those interviewed said that they trusted it. Second highest was religious educational institutions, trusted by about 50 percent of respondents. The national government came last at 10 percent. The paper assesses that that the army will abide by its duty under the Constitution “to defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, to act in aid of the civil power when called upon to do so” for so long as the civil power is itself legitimate.

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