Dangerous Challenge of Terrorism

  • 12 October 2009

Recent developments in Pakistan and Afghanistan clearly reveal the dangerous challenge posed by terrorism and the movements associated with it in the region. The day following the blast in Peshawar marketplace last Friday, which killed about 50 people and injured over 100, terrorist groups attacked an army building in Islamabad, and held a number of people hostage. Eventually, Pakistani forces successfully released the hostages in an operation which caused the death of three of their commandos. On the Afghan front, attacks by Taliban have increased and their influence has risen to an alarming level. Afghan Defense Minister recently revealed that thousands of foreign fighters were now entering Afghanistan to provide support to Taliban. These developments are potentially dangerous in a variety of ways. First, the blows suffered by terrorist organizations in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the recent past have compelled them to regroup in the face of an existential threat, forcing them to increase their indiscriminate attacks in order to recreate a climate of tension in the Indian subcontinent.

It is in this context, that the explosion which killed 17 people outside the India embassy in Kabul on Thursday, which was claimed by Taliban, should be viewed. The second cause for concern is that despite the intense crackdown against terrorists in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, they are still able of threaten, strike and kill, which exposes the difficulty in combating and eliminating their threat.  The third issue pertains to another statement by the Afghan Defense Minister that points to the ability of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to continue employing their networks around the region and the world, which allows them great flexibility of movement and tactical adaptability. The fourth concern is that Al-Qaeda, Taliban and their associated cells in the Middle East, are now giving top priority to the ongoing fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and are mobilizing all their resources to avoid defeat, particularly after their setback in Iraq.

The fifth concern is that the pressure exerted by international and local forces against the terrorist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan, will further drive Al-Qaeda to activate their sleeper cells that are currently inactive in other areas of the region to resist this pressure and divert attention. The battle against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a global battle against terrorism. Therefore, countries need greater international and regional support to eradicate this threat and prevent its spread to other areas.