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Editorial: An Internally Threatened State

Pakistan’s economic situation hampers its ability to tackle national security, encouraging a cycle the country will find difficult to break

by Editorial

File Photo. A. Majeed—AFP

Pakistan is once again in the grip of terrorism, spanning almost its entirety, particularly Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, certain areas of Sindh and the “katcha” areas of Punjab. Many of these attacks originate from across the borders with Afghanistan and Iran, with authorities alleging Indian involvement. A majority of militancy is claimed by various factions of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is now located in Afghanistan and appears to be playing a role subject to an Indian strategy against Pakistan. Last year, in April, Pakistan announced the launch of a nationwide offensive to eradicate militancy, achieving little success thus far. Despite this appearing a war on the TTP, however, it is more accurately a clash with two neighboring states having significant Indian presence.

Pakistan’s situation is worsened due to its economic doldrums, triggering rampant inflation and unemployment that encourage the extremist mindset. Increasingly reliant on aid and bailouts, notably from the IMF, Pakistan narrowly averted default last year and isn’t entirely out of the woods even today. The poor economic situation has led to a decline in job opportunities, contributing to a surge in unusual migration: over 300 Pakistani migrants died trying to reach Europe when their boat sank off the coast of Greece in 2023. The dire economic situation has forced Pakistan to make difficult budgetary cuts and raise taxes, raising concerns over public unrest. Compounding these woes is the threat posed by climate-change, which the country appears helpless to counter without a wider global initiative.

Unsurprisingly, authorities have sought to address the threats by focusing inwards, ordering all undocumented migrants—mostly Afghans—to leave the country or risk deportation. One of the reasons cited for this decision is national security, with authorities claiming Afghans have perpetrated many of the country’s recent terrorist attacks. India’s funding for such activities cannot be dismissed, especially in light of recent revelations about its extrajudicial killings on Pakistani soil.

Pakistan is thus internally threatened, both because of its penetrable western border and its inadequate governance in the country’s north. These security challenges have exacted an extremely high cost, both in terms of the funds spent on the fight against extremism, and the “a knock-on effect on investment inflows and market confidence.”

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