The war on terror, now in its 12thyear, has entailed a financial cost that runs into, according to some estimates, trillions of dollars, but, perhaps, more important and, in fact, more painful is its multidimensional impact on human life. Looking at, for instance, the Pakistani scene, one would feel aghast at the devastated families, which were leading a happy, comfortable life when their breadwinners were alive and earning; their suffering now renders one speechless. While the dead are often buried in mutilated shapes, the injured, far greater in number, bear the scar of the bomb blasts for life not just on their bodies, but on their minds as well. Similarly, the destruction caused by the terrorist attacks is too difficult to measure, both in physical and psychological terms.
Leaving aside Iraq and Afghanistan where the local population witnessed hundreds of thousands of their kith and kin killed in the war on terror, Pakistan, of all other countries that are ranged against the militants, has suffered the most. According to the figures placed before the Supreme Court at Islamabad on Tuesday, the total number of casualties in Fata alone has been frighteningly high and the fight continues. At a hearing of the missing persons’ case by the apex court, the joint report of the Military Intelligence and the Inter-Services Intelligence put the total number of both the dead and the injured at about 49,000 and that includes the members of the armed forces as well as the civilians since Pakistan became an ally of the US in the war. As the militants had, in 2007-2008, challenged article 265 of the constitution by raising private armies and launched terrorist attacks, the soldiers took them on and, in the process, 1,479 of them have laid down their lives in defence of the country from 2008 to 2013. Other 5,745 have been wounded during this period. The number of victims belonging to the Frontier Constabulary comes to 675 dead and 1,978 injured. The confirmed casualties of the terrorists have, in these less than five years, been 4,279. They launched 233 suicide attacks, fired 9,257 rockets and made 4,256 bomb attacks. The economy lies in a shambles.
The above figures would send a chill down the spine of the people even those living away from the scene, making them realise that the country is at war. Thankfully, by their indiscriminate attacks, alike on the fighting forces and the civilians, the terrorists have alienated themselves from a large section of the country’s population in the country. With their support base having thinned out, the agencies believe that the intensity of their assaults has come down. The greatest fear at this point in time is that they might pull themselves up and manage to carry out a spate of suicide attacks in order to obstruct the general elections. Thus, the urgent need is that the intelligence agencies step up the information gathering work and the rest of the security forces get ready to respond to the challenge.