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Saturday, 26 November 2022
Remembering Pakistan’s role in the Global War Against Terrorism

Remembering Pakistan’s role in the Global War Against Terrorism

By Hira A Shafi


The September 11, 2001 attacks, which resulted in the collapse of the World Trade Center, one of the most recognisable icon in New York City, caused a great deal of emotional distress and terror across the world. The harrowing images of mourning crowds assembling at "Ground Zero," the site where the buildings once stood, were shown across global media in the days that followed September 11. This attack was dubbed a major tactical success for Al-Qaeda.


It was widely reported that Al Qaeda carefully coordinated these attacks from their base in Afghanistan, where it had developed a tight relationship with the Taliban regime. In the aftermath of the attacks, the Taliban refused American demands to extradite Al-Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden and terminate Al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan. As a result, for the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) invoked Article 5, enabling all NATO members to jointly act in self-defence to counter the menace of global terrorism.


In addition to the 9/11 attack, the world has witnessed terrifying levels of terrorism in Iraq, the 2005 London bombings, and threats to other European nations, elevating the issue of combating global terrorism to the top of the international agenda since 2001.


Pakistan has had a close relationship with the terrorism epidemic. Since 2001, Pakistan has been fighting on the front lines of the global war against terrorism. Post-2001, terrorist organisations that began to flee Afghanistan sought to entrench their roots in the neighbouring tribal zones of Pakistan. This movement was enabled owing to the highly porous and unmanageable Pakistan-Afghanistan border zones. This resulted in a wave of terrorism inside Pakistan. Despite the difficulties in conducting counterterrorism operations in an extremely difficult terrain, Pakistan’s efforts and sacrifices resulted in a significant decrease in terrorism in Afghanistan and the region as a whole, augmenting global security and stability.



The capture of Al Qaeda commanders and agents who fled Afghanistan in late 2001 was greatly assisted by Pakistan. To rid the peripheral areas of Al Qaeda, Taliban, and Haqqani remnants, Pakistan subsequently launched 12 significant counterterrorism operations. Since September 11, 2001, the Pakistani government has apprehended a number of al-Qaeda operatives and international terrorists from its territory. Pakistan has also aided in major counter-terrorism finance efforts by blocking the bank accounts of al-Qaeda and its allied charitable organisations, such as the Al-Rasheed Trust and the Rabeta Trust. As part of its attempts to combat the threat of global terrorism, Pakistan deployed its troops in the former Federally administered tribal areas (FATA) for the first time in its history (FATA).

Key counter-terror efforts:

The first anti-terror operation conducted by the Pakistan Army in July 2003 targeted a tribe in North Waziristan involved in the July 2003 al-Qaeda-led attack on a U.S. military post. Additionally, operations against clans that refused to hand over Taliban and Al Qaeda members were intensified. From October 2003 to March 2004, a number of al-Qaida militants with Chechen and Uzbek origins were eliminated. In April 2004, the Shakai operation was initiated to cleanse the region of Al Qaeda-affiliated militants of foreign provenance. In September 2005 and January 2008, operations were launched to clear South and North Waziristan of militants, respectively. In August 2008, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Sherdil to reclaim Bajur Agency from the terrorist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which maintained strong ties with Al-Qaeda. By February 2009, the Army had successfully concluded this operation. In May 2009, the Second Battle of Swat, also known as Operation Rah-e-Rast, commenced to combat the terrorist threat posed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. The operation against the TTP and Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi was completed in July 2009 with significant victories.


Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, and Zhob were purged of nearly 90% of their terrorist elements during Operation Rah-e-Nijat which started in September 2009. In December 2014, the Pakistan Armed Forces launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a joint military offensive against multiple militant groups, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, al-Qaeda, Jundallah, and the Haqqani network. The TTP and its ally Lashkar-e-Islam were targeted in the 2014 Khyber-I operation in Khyber Agency of the former FATA.In March 2015, the Khyber-II operation was launched with the intention of clearing the Tirah valley, which had become a safe haven for the TTP, Lashkar-e-Islam, and Jamaatul Ahrar. By the middle of July 2017, Khyber-IV aimed to get rid of all terrorists in Rajgal Valley and Shawal Valley in Khyber Agency.

Finally, in February 2017, Operation Radd Ul Fassad (RuF) was launched to eliminate terrorists, abettors, and sleeper cells that had entrenched their roots across the country. The Operation focused on pre-emptive intelligence driven operations to counter terrorist attacks. The significance of Radd-ul-Fasaad resides in its ability to accomplish three key aims. The first goal was to ensure that the use of force is limited to the state. The second aim was to ensure peace in the Western Zone of Pakistan by implementing effective border management and countering the issue of infiltrations through porous borders. The third aim is to ensure peace across all cities in Pakistan by dismantling terrorist networks and support bases. Operation RuF successfully dismantled terrorist networks spread across the country. The Operation has resulted in a major decline in terrorist activities in the country.


- Conclusion:


Combating terrorism is a very challenging endeavor, especially as terrorists have the potential to blend in and become difficult to distinguish from the common population. Despite these obstacles, the army has carried out the task of countering terrorism with noteworthy fervour and a high level of professionalism, achieving success in the face of formidable difficulties.


To remove terrorism from the region, Pakistan has incurred enormous costs. Pakistan incurred about 200 billion US dollars in financial losses and costs as a result of the GWOT. When discussing the expense of Pakistan's efforts in the GWOT, the cost of several thousand casualties is hardly mentioned. Pakistani residents' horrific experiences with terrorism are etched into the nation's collective memory. The sad 2014 attack on Army Public School in Peshawar, which resulted in the deaths of 132 innocent schoolchildren, can never be erased from the public consciousness. Pakistan's role in the fight against terrorism has been recognised by the international community numerous times. Eliminating terrorism from the landscape of Pakistan is not a small achievement. This victory has not only stabilised the region, but it has also significantly contributed to countering the threat of global terrorism. The Pakistani Armed Forces must play a significant role in achieving this exceptional goal. This objective was accomplished as a result of the Pakistani military's commitment, professionalism, and sacrifices.

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