Terrorism and its analysis

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For almost thirty years the area of terrorism has been occupied with a marginal position within the mainstream. The intellectuals and scholars have provided some social scientific meaning to individuals and societies of anguish terrorism arising out of the event as they unfolded across time and context. In this globalized world, there are numerous evolutions arising out of terrorism as new waves of terrorism would appear on the horizon.  Terrorism is the premeditated use or threat to use violence by individuals or subnational groups to obtain a political or social objective through the intimidation of a large audience beyond that of the immediate noncombatant victims[1].Two aspects of terrorism are violence and social or political objective. Terrorists seek to limit normal channels for political change by traumatizing the public with brutal acts so that governments feel compelled to either address terrorist demands or divert public funds into strengthening potential targets[2]. Such ingredients of terrorism are objective as opposed to infringing fundamental human rights. There are various other types of terrorism that exist especially in the middle-east and South-Asian countries as described below.  

Terrorism in Pakistan has and had destabilized the economic and social structure of Pakistan since the fall of twin towers. Unfortunately, the justice system of Pakistan is incapable of curtailing the threat of terrorist attacks and the root cause is not illiteracy or poverty, but the only option left to cease Soviet Union Occupation from Afghanistan by rendering lethal ammunition to muhjahedens, who later became terrorists[3] and a majority of them fled to Pakistan. There are about 3 million Afghan people who migrated to Pakistan in 1994, engulfing Pakistan[4]. It is evident that the flourishing of terrorism in Pakistan, is the cost that Pakistan paid under the pressure of United States. However, Pakistan is not just suffering from the type of terrorism that is violence, but there are four types of terrorism in Pakistan that exist and agitate the country’s stability. Sectarian, racial nationalism, ethno-linguistic, and religious are the four types of terrorism that exist in Pakistan since its independence. There are many factors for such rampant terrorism in Pakistan for example, influx of corruption, rampant injustices, religious beliefs at the lowest ebb and various external forces that lead to violence and domestic bestial acts in Pakistan.  Each of the aforementioned kinds of terrorism has its own conflict with the stability of Pakistan and its establishment, the justice system of Pakistan is lacking its procedures and the ability to act out those procedures against terrorism.

The Anti-Terrorism Act (“ATA”) 1997 in Pakistan lay its foundation to effectively deal with the incidents of terrorism and provide the legal framework to counter the threat of violence and terror and through the Anti-terrorist Court (ATC) provide justice to the country. As discussed above, terrorism in Pakistan is not limited to suicide bombing or blasts in specific areas to agitate the public and the stability of the country. According to section 6 of the ATA it elaborates on the “use of threat or action to intimidate” is not vast as opposed to the incidents taking place in Pakistan. There are a number of cases that should be dealt under the ordinary criminal justice system of Pakistan and has no definitive association with the act of terrorism as defined under section 6 of ATA is dragged under the ambit of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. For example, a homicide which had taken place in a deserted location in which the victim had been sprinkled in petrol and then set alight. The body of the deceased according to the medical report had been completely burned. The Peshawar High Court had held that the ATC had no jurisdiction to try the case since the facts indicated that the act was the result of personal hostility bearing no nexus with the ATA. However, the Supreme Court on appeal held that where an act having taken place in a brutal and gruesome manner had created fear and insecurity, it would certainly come within the purview of the ATA[5]. Further, Supreme Court asserted that when the body of the deceased was brought to the community, it would create sense of insecurity and threat in the minds of the people and therefore it comes under the ambit of ATC. Similarly, in one of the other cases Supreme Court held that four people have been murdered in broad day light in Lahore. It has created a sense of insecurity and menace to the public at large, hence, it comes under the ambit of ATC[6]. However, this reflects that the majority of cases dealt by ATC have no genuine link to the “Act of Terrorism” and contain personal enmity amongst the parties that have been demised under certain situations. There is no applicability of section 6 in ATA in the cases that are being held in ATC and third schedule. This contends that there is no clear distinction made between the ordinary crime and the acts of a terrorist. To evince more enhanced approach with regards to ATA, it should be repealed and should incorporate more elaborative provision primitive to the “Acts of Terrorism” and an ordinary crime.


Moreover, ignoble policies and statutory rules enacted by Pakistan parliament to counter terrorism has explicitly failed and made another blunder by intervening military courts to deal with terrorism cases. According to 21st Amendment of the constitution of Pakistan, military courts are allowed to intervene in order to curtail the threat of terrorism in Pakistan and by undermining the judicial process of Pakistan. The reason for the government to take such initiatives is because the procedure of military courts are easily accessible and speedy in terms of giving orders to penalizing the terrorist.  Evidently military courts have extensive powers to come to a conclusion, but in a democratic country the role of military courts is impractical because the use of military courts is inconsistent with International commissions of Jurist (ICJ)[7]. Military courts will destroy the constitution of the country and rule of law. Justice system of the country will no longer be evidenced in order for a trial to take place and people will shift towards military courts for a fair and impartial decision.  In order to achieve justice in a democratic country, government can strengthen its judicial power by amending the old laws with the present circumstances and develop innovative technology to restraint all types of terrorism. This can be achieved by pressuring legislative bodies and political entities to participate in making of new laws and reforms of criminal justice system for the country and purporting new ideas and opinions to control the threat of terrorism.

In pith and marrow, the laws dealing with the act of terrorism should be specific to the act of ‘violence and threat’ that intends to create minatory influence in the public and cause intimidation to any government or political party as discussed under Australian Counter-Terrorism Law and Anti-Terrorism Act 2005 that deals with the acts that lead to threats in the public and to the stability of the country but does not to any personal enmity cases. In this instance, Pakistan, a developing country should alter the provisions of ATA to counter the threat of terrorism in the country and deal with the cases that involve more of a minatory influence in the public at large. Such an instance could be achieved, when all political entities cease the act of stifled corruption and nepotism and work for the betterment of the country. There should be an enhanced deterrence in the ‘act of terrorism’ and cases that include ordinary crimes should be dealt under the ordinary justice system of Pakistan. Last, the justice system of Pakistan must also be enhanced with innovative technology and computerized systems, in which, the culprit would not be left with any opportunity of acting under the paradigm of terrorism.



[1] Enders W.Sandler T. (1996) Terrorism and foreign direct investment in Spain and Greece, Kyklos , 49, 331–52.

[2] Averill v The United Kingdom ECHR 20 June 2000.

[3] PLD 2011 Supreme Court 997.

[4] Satter, A, “Pakistan Foreign Policy (1946-2016)”, Oxford Press.

[5] PLD 2003 Supreme Court 224

[6] PLD 2002 Supreme Court 841

[7] Burns v Wilson 346 U.S. 844 (1953).

Sher Afghan

Sher Afghan

An experienced legal professional (LLB, BCom & LLM) with a reputation for integrity, innovative thinking and a proven understanding of the law and legal system in New South Wales and Lahore. Aside from a lawyer, I am a Confident communicator and writer who is able to liaise directly with statutory agencies and non-statutory agencies, Research Societies, Educational institutions and other legal and non-legal parties.