The Psychological Impact of Terrorism on Victims and the Public: A Case Study of Pakistan

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Terrorism is the use of violence and fear as a means of achieving political or ideological goals. It is a form of irregular warfare that is intended to destabilize governments, societies and economies. The main aim of terrorists is to attract widespread media attention and create an atmosphere of terror and insecurity. The methods used by terrorists can range from small-scale acts of violence to large-scale attacks that cause mass casualties.

Terrorism has been a persistent threat to global peace and security for many decades and has taken various forms over the years, from domestic terrorism to international terrorism. The causes of terrorism are complex and multi-faceted, including political, social, economic and religious factors. Despite significant efforts by the international community to combat terrorism, it continues to pose a serious threat to many countries around the world. Due to the complexity and global nature of the terrorist problem, the fight against terrorism requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach that addresses both the root causes and the manifestations of terrorism.

Brief History of Terrorism:

Terrorism has a long and complex history, dating back to the 19th century when political groups used acts of violence to achieve their goals. The concept of modern terrorism emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, with various extremist groups using acts of terrorism to spread fear and intimidate governments and civilians.

In the 1980s, the Middle East saw a rise in terrorism with groups such as Hezbollah and the Palestine Liberation Organization using terrorism to advance their political aims. In the 1990s and 2000s, Al-Qaeda became a prominent global terrorist organization, carrying out several high-profile attacks, including the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001.

In recent years, terrorism has continued to be a major threat, with groups such as ISIS emerging and carrying out attacks across the world. State-sponsored terrorism has also been a concern, with countries such as Iran and North Korea being accused of supporting terrorist groups. The impact of terrorism on individuals, communities, and societies is devastating, often leading to loss of life, injury, and damage to infrastructure.

Psychological Impact: A case Study of Pakistan:

As stated before, the aim of terrorism is not only the act of heinous damage, but also the response it hopes to elicit. Unless civilizations stop resolving their differences and let them define them, there will be an economic collapse, backlash, hostility, division, and eradication of tolerance. And;

By creating the National Counter Terrorist Authority (NACTA) and enacting anti-terrorism laws that led to later policies like the National Action Plan (NAP) or the National Internal Security Policy, the Pakistani government has made attempts to combat terrorism (NISP).

What stands out about this statement is that the terrorists’ primary goal, in addition to the physical harm they want to wreak, is to have a psychological effect. They aim to undermine a nation’s morals, its cohesion, and its working parts. In addition to the damage and fatalities, the victim suffers a great deal from the unjustified impact on their psychological state and social conduct. The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) was established by the Pakistani government as part of its efforts to combat terrorist. Anti-terrorism legislation was also conducted, and the National Action Plan (NAP) and National Internal Security Policy that followed were the results (NISP). The development of policy surrounding the decline in people’s psychological and mental health after terrorism, however, has received little attention. Terrorist strikes have caused severe stress and despair among children. Fear and a sense of powerlessness are brought on by such catastrophes. A child’s thinking and learning ability may be negatively impacted by an overactive stress system. The growth of bodily organs, including the brain, may also be hampered. Terrorism has an impact on children’s psychological health, either directly or indirectly.

The attack on Army Public School, which was among the most terrible acts of violence to ever occur in Pakistan and subsequently had a significant impact on the country’s psychological stability, is one of the most horrifying examples of this. In terms of the sense of security and protection, this has an impact particularly on the mental health of children and the adults who are in charge of them.

In general, studies show a link between stress symptoms and media exposure to terrorist incidents.

Pakistan’s socioeconomic dynamics have altered as a result of terrorism, with security being the nation’s top priority. It has caused social unrest among the populace and had a significant effect on the country’s overall population. Children have been negatively impacted by terrorism incidents that have been shown on television, in the media, and on social media.

10% of children who suffer terrorist attacks have major psychological problems and medical illnesses as a result of stress-related hormones, which mostly harm the cardiovascular system, the World Health Organization reported. Serious trauma experienced during the early years of a child’s life has a detrimental effect on all areas of the child’s development, including their psychological, physical, social, emotional, and moral growth.

A five-pronged counter-terrorism strategy to destroy, confine, prevent, educate, and reintegrate has been implemented by the National Internal Security Policy (NISP), which was enacted in 2014. Two reaction strategies are established by NISP to combat terrorism.

The government’s attempts to create a national narrative against terrorism are clearly extremely legalized in Pakistan, but there is only a minimal showing of implementation. A five-pronged counter-terrorism strategy to destroy, confine, prevent, educate, and reintegrate has been implemented by the National Internal Security Policy (NISP), which was enacted in 2014. Two reaction strategies are established by NISP to combat terrorism. The Composite Response Plan (CRP), one of the two response plans, has a focus on rehabilitating those who have been harmed by terrorism either directly or indirectly.

In Pakistan, terrorism has mostly affected the younger population and had a severe detrimental social and psychological impact. This threat has plagued Pakistan for years, killing many people and leaving others severely disabled. Terrorism is one of the most significant concerns, not merely from the standpoint of national security, but also because it has long-lasting social and psychological effects that are intractable with conventional counter terrorism measures.

Counter terrorism Strategies by Pakistan:

Pakistan has made diplomatic efforts to counter terrorism both domestically and internationally. Domestically, Pakistan has taken steps to improve its law enforcement capabilities and crack down on terrorist groups operating within its borders. This has included military operations against extremist groups, such as the Pakistan Army’s Operation Zarb-e-Azab against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Internationally, Pakistan has actively sought to cooperate with other countries to combat terrorism. This has included participation in international anti-terrorism forums, such as the Global Counter terrorism Forum and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Pakistan has also sought to enhance its intelligence-sharing capabilities with other countries and has taken part in joint counter terrorism operations with countries like the United States.

While these efforts have had some success, terrorism continues to be a major challenge for Pakistan. However, the country’s leaders have recognized the need to address the problem and have made a concerted effort to do so through a combination of military, diplomatic, and law enforcement measures.

Pakistan Action to Counter Terrorism:

Pakistan’s Action to Counter Terrorism (PACT) with a specific reference to Sindh is jointly developed by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to empower the criminal justice institutions to proactively prevent and counter terrorism.

PACT Sindh is designed to strengthen the capacities and coordination mechanisms of federal, and provincial, counter-terrorism and criminal justice institutions. PACT Sindh will focus on improving the quality of the investigation, prosecution and adjudication process of Sindh’s criminal justice system. It will strengthen the capacity of police, prosecution and judiciary in cooperation with other departments to:

• Respond to terrorist threats;

• Conduct terrorist investigations and to;

• Bring perpetrators to justice in accordance with the rule of law.

Conclusion

In conclusion, terrorism has been a constant menace to the world that has had terrible effects on people, communities, and societies. Even while the psychological effects of terrorism are frequently ignored, they have serious repercussions, especially for young people who are exposed to it through numerous media sources. The National Anti Terrorism Authority (NACTA) was established by the Pakistani government, and anti-terrorism laws have been passed as a result. Yet, attention must be given to the establishment of policies related to the reduction in people’s psychological and mental health following terrorism. A thorough and coordinated strategy is needed to combat terrorism, one that takes into account both its underlying causes and its outward manifestations. The National Counterterrorism Center has established a five-pronged counterterrorism plan to eliminate, contain, prevent, educate, and reintegrate. The National Internal Security Policy (NISP) has put in place a five-pronged counter-terrorism policy to eradicate, contain, prevent, educate, and rehabilitate terrorists. To end the scourge of terrorism and make the entire globe safer, the international community must continue to cooperate.

Amara Malik
Amara Malik
Amara Malik, undergraduate of NDU, pursuing her degree in BS IR. Area of Interest is South Asian politics, atrocities held there, and the role of great powers along with the International Organizations.

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