TERRORISM: WHO BENEFITS?
Without going into pros and cons of the terrorist movements, it is time to consider as to who benefits from this, i.e., the terrorists, the government, the security forces, the general public or someone else. Let us examine each aspect separately.
The terrorists/militants and the security forces claim successes against each other but in the end practically, they lose much more than they gain. Their family members are the main sufferers – though none them have any say or control in this matter.
The terrorists only gain notorious publicity by their actions and practically their life span shortens to maximum 5 to 8 years. They do not live to see the end result of their movement.
The families of terrorists lose their most prized possession, be it son/daughter for no fault of theirs. The security forces and the government keep on conducting raids, on the friends and relatives of terrorists/ militants causing unnecessary harassment, heartburn, loss of public image and sympathy. What they gain requires an independent indepth study.
The security forces personal do not gain anything. They are deployed against terrorists as a matter of routine. It is not a task which they relish/enjoy as they also suffer losses and face restriction of movement.
The families of security forces too live in dread of losing their bread winner in an encounter with the terrorists. They also become targets of terrorists who would like to demoralize the men/officers fighting the terrorists by striking at their children and families. The compensation provided by authorities cannot undo the loss suffered and fill the void left behind. Obviously, they do not gain anything.
The government also incurs a huge drain on the expenditure by having to deploy more and more forces to tackle the movement, diverting funds from development projects required to be put in place to ensure progress and development of the public. The government also has to replace the personnel lost and look after the welfare of those families causing a further burden on the exchequer in addition to criticism both inland and abroad.
The general public stands to lose the most as they always live in fear of death. Their movement becomes restricted. They become a casualty even as a bystander in the process of exchange of fire. They also become innocent victims of terrorists actions (like bomb blasts, shootouts) undertaken by terrorists to gain publicity.
The media (both written and electronic) keeps on playing and replaying the terrorist incidents/ encounters repeatedly further spreading fear and disgust in the minds of the public. Their focus gets limited to terrorists events news only.
The leaders in the government (ruling/ opposition) and the administrators have to face media criticism and an agitated public, who demands safety and control of the movement which cannot be guaranteed since the control of the terrorist movement may sometimes lie outside the jurisdiction of the state and even the country.
Thus, nobody stands to gain. Maybe only the agencies, who are directing the movement, gain some sort of sadistic pleasure as they are involved in destabilizing the area for their limited ulterior motives.
If this is obvious to everyone then why do the leaders and the administrators not take a proactive role and work in cohesion along with the law makers, enforcers and the media right from day one to prevent discontent subsequently blooming into a terrorist movement. Definitely, this calls for a broad mature understanding in the political leadership. They should try to resolve the grievances rather than deriving political mileage for their political gain as it is well know that it is difficult to control a tiger one is riding on.
Sometimes personal ego becomes a stumbling block in conceding certain grievances of the public. This should be avoided and government should sincerely work towards finding a acceptably amicable solution instead of trying to browbeat the people who come to forefront voicing their grievances.
If the law or the rules stand in the way of providing relief to the general public, the administrators and the government should be magnanimous enough to amend the rules, if required, for the benefit of the public, because no terrorist movement can start/ thrive/ sustain without local support.
Note: The writer had been at the helm of Security Forces Movement Against Anti-Terrorism in Punjab.