Measuring Terrorism and Legislative Policymaking In Pakistan



The prefatory question is not ‘how to measure,’ but is ‘why to measure’ terrorism. The question may be open to many an answer; one response with erudite credentials came from Bruno S. Frey and Simon Luechinger of the Institute of Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich, Switzerland. In a paper entitled “Measuring Terrorism” (2003), they opined that the state’s monopoly over the use of force was likely to be challenged by terrorism, which, in turn, would occupy top place in policy, and resultantly, it will receive more resources and will have more economic consequences. They suggested that measurement of terrorism should not only include the “number of terrorist acts,” but also “the consequences of such acts for people.”

In case of Pakistan, unfortunately, the measurement of terrorism has received less than salutary attention. The Economic Survey of Pakistan 2010-11 did carry a special section about the cost on war on terrorism, but the subsequent issues of the official publication conspicuously chose not to address the issue and the special section included in 2010-11 was discontinued without assigning any reason. In absence of any serious attempt at measuring terrorism, the adage “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” appears true for Pakistan; accordingly, it may be noted that the state’s response to acts of terrorism is emotional than planned and proactive. In this write-up, an attempt has been made to highlight the measurements recorded by the Global Terrorism Index 2014 (GTI-2014), and to briefly examine why it should be linked with the policymaking.

The Global Terrorism Index 2014

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) is an international think tank that issues indices on terrorism and peace. Its Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2014 makes an interesting read for the Pakistanis. Some of its Pakistan-specific data is reproduced hereunder:


According to the GTI-2014, with a score of 9.37 out of 10, Pakistan is ranked third as far as incidence of terrorist acts is concerned; next only to Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of overall rankings. India with a score of 7.86 is at sixth place. One may disagree with the ranking, but the only way to contradict it is to examine academically the methodology employed by the IEP, and then to develop a counter-narrative, if any, on empirical and scientific basis.

2. Pattern of Terrorist Attacks

The pattern of terrorist attacks is reflected in Fig. 1. It appears that there has been an ascending trend in the increase in deaths since 2002. The mapping of the terror incidents shows that major and worst attacks remained away from the Punjab province; total of 2345 persons were killed and over 5035 were injured in the year 2013.

3. Weapons-type Analysis

The GTI-2014 shows that in South Asia, almost 60% of the attacks were carried out with explosives, whereas firearms were used in about 40% incidents. The weapons-type analysis presented in Fig. 2 may be useful in developing preventive and legislative strategies to check the incidence of the terrorist incidents.


The GTI-2014 — as shown in Fig. 3 — has divided the terrorist ideologies into three main categories: political, religious and national separatist. Amongst these, most dominant in South Asia are the religious ideologies, which may well have similar impact over both India and Pakistan. In contrast, the North and South Americas have been under influence of the nationalist separatist ideologies.

5. Terrorism versus Homicide

Even though the terrorism occupies most of the discourse in mainstream media internationally, the problems of crime control are far acuter than terrorism. For example, the Fig. 4 shows that the deaths caused by terrorism are a fraction of the deaths caused by homicide internationally. Therefore though the terrorism may deserve spotlight, the crime control cannot be ignored.

6. Organization-wise Analysis

The organization-wise analysis given in Fig. 5 does not fare well for Pakistan. The most deadly organization, according to GTI-2014, is the Taliban with causing over 12000 causalities during 2000-13. The ISIL is placed at number four, next to Al-Qaida, Taliban and Boko Haram. A striking feature of the data is that five out of ten most deadly organizations have Islamic religious ideology.

7. Targets’ Analysis

MEASURING TERRORISM AND LEGISLATIVE POLICY MAKING IN PAKISTAN 4The targets’ analysis presents interesting data. The Taliban’s targets have been government, military and police personnel more than the private citizens. Attacks on educational institutions is also a common point amongst the four most deadly terrorist organizations as shown in Fig. 6.

Fighting Terrorism

Finally, towards the end of the GTI-2014, there is a graph — as show in Fig. 7 — representing that policing and politicization have been the most successful strategies to counter terrorism in the long run. For Pakistan’s policymakers, this information may have some important clues.

Policy Implications for Counterterrorism Legislation

The data shown above may not depict the whole picture and the methodology employed to develop it may also not be perfect, but no one can deny that there is a strong case for Pakistan’s policymakers to encourage development of indigenous database, which could then be used in executive and legislative policymaking. The extant counterterrorism legislation (the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997) and the latest special legislation at federal level (the Investigation for Fair Trial Act 2013 and the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014) are not fully linked with the indigenous needs of the criminal justice system. Likewise, detailed profiling based on reliable data about the proscribed organization is yet to be undertaken. The emphasis has, usually, been on the primary legislation which is invariably pegged into substantive law; the adjective law that actually provides wherewithal is not fully developed.

Resultantly, when a matter is put to judicial scrutiny, it usually fails the test of objective criteria. The cumulative effect of all this is that the criminal justice system dealing with the terrorism and criminal acts stands diluted; the dilution leads initially to mistrust and finally to scepticism. The situation in the country is getting more precarious with every passing day. But still little or no effort is being made to scientifically and methodically address the issues confronting us. Another aspect, which might be ably handled, is the resource allocation duly backed with legal framework. At the moment, every newly-introduced law on the statute emerges as a paper reform as it seldom gets implemented due to non-allocation of resources. The parliamentary oversight over public funds is at best feeble and there is no mechanism to check what resources have been allocated for a newly promulgated law. An illustration in point is that not even a single case under the Investigation for Fair Trial Act 2013 has been processed till date. Likewise, a set of amendments was introduced in 2013 to the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 with the objective of nationalizing the international law. The law has never been invoked as there is neither an enabling legal clause for international cooperation in the area nor there are resources to implement the law.



With every new attack in the country, we see statements of high and mighty: emotions run high for a moment and then the momentum of action, if any, is lost. The message is clear: we are not planning well, and for effective and sustainable planning, data, information, consultation coupled with right leadership are required. The legislative and executive policymaking, unfortunately, is soaked more in emotions than in hard facts.

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