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The Effects of Terrorism on Pakistan and Its Impact in the World of Sport: Role of Suicide Bombings and Abductions

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In cricket, Pakistan rarely stay quiet for long. They have been touched with genius, they have been champions of the world, yet controversy follows them like a shadow. They have lurched from the sublime to the ridiculous. Pakistan are the game’s great enigmas. However, the last decade has seen them face their greatest challenge yet… the loss of a sport so adored by the nation.

Pakistan have experienced the highs and lows of the beautiful game of cricket. They have been blessed with the some of the greatest talents to ever play the game such as Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Inzamam-ul-Haq. With the services of these players, they reached the pinnacle of white ball cricket: winning the T20 cricket world cup in 2007. However, they have been damned with controversies.

In August 2006, the Pakistani cricket team were accused of ball tampering in a test match against England. The team then refused to continue the game out of protest and eventually lost the game by forfeiture. Furthermore, in August 2010, a young Mohammad Amir bowled a front foot no-ball. This is a normal occurrence in cricket, bowlers bowl no-balls all of the time, but it was such a large overstep that it was, without a doubt, done on purpose. As it turned out, Amir was bowling no-balls at specific times as a part of a spot-fixing scandal. It was at this point that people began to ask, “Why is it always Pakistan that are involved in these scandals?”. However, this was not the worst of it.

On the 3rd of March 2009, the third morning of the test match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, a team of 12 terrorists gathered in the building opposite the Liberty roundabout, a few hundred metres from the Gaddafi stadium, where the test match was being played, and a well-planned, well-orchestrated and well-equipped attack took place. A lapse in security allowed the gunmen to get within striking distance of the Sri Lankan team bus, travelling to the stadium before the resumption of the match. The police guarding the team were the first to come under fire. Several of them were shot and killed immediately. Soon after, it was the Sri Lankan team themselves who became targets. With bags full of grenades and machine guns, they had intent on carnage, and it was only the quick thinking of the bus driver that prevented more loss of life as he quickly accelerated towards the stadium as quickly as possible. As it turned out, 6 policemen and 2 civilians were killed. It was a dark day for Pakistan, and the devastating consequences on Pakistan cricket quickly became clear, as test cricket would not return to Pakistan for over a decade.

Instability, insecurity and political violence have been prominent in Pakistan since the 1980s. However, since the turn of the millennium, these have grown as a result of Pakistan’s role as a frontline state in the fight against terrorism. 12 long years of trying to do more in the War against Terrorism, yet they are still looked down upon as a country for not doing enough and have lost a lot of their sovereignty as a result. Terrorism has embedded itself as part of the reputation of Pakistan and tarnished the world’s outlook on the country. The road to recovery is a long one.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban in Pakistan, alternatively known as the Pakistani Taliban, have been troubling Pakistan for years. They are a jihadist group who have been involved several attacks in the past, including suicide bombings and abductions. Furthermore, they have widened their area of operations beyond the tribal areas of Pakistan, so that it includes several of Pakistan government organisations. They have been responsible for terror attacks on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and the Navy base in Karachi, to name just a few. They have also made it known that they were the ones who attack the Sri Lankan cricket team on the Liberty roundabout on that fateful day. The Pakistan government have done their best to prevent it from happening in the future and military operations carried out by the Pakistan Armed Forces have meant that many of the Pakistani Taliban have either been killed or flushed out of Pakistan by fleeing to the neighbouring Afghanistan.

The incident had a great effect on Pakistan. However, this was not the first time cricket had been affected by something like this. In 2004, the New Zealand cricket team abandoned their three match Test Series against Pakistan after a suicide bombing outside their hotel. No group claimed either of these attacks but in 2004, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba issued a ruling against cricket stating that it was un-Islamic. This sent shockwaves through Pakistan as it feared that future cricket events could be under threat as terrorists may try to put an end to them as well.

Pakistan were due to co-host the 2011 cricket world cup alongside India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, but as a result of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, the International Cricket Council, otherwise known as the ICC, stripped Pakistan of the hosting rights. New Zealand, then, cancelled their December 2009 tour to Pakistan and Bangladesh also put off their Furthermore, the ICC also suspended forms of international cricket in Pakistan until further notice as it was deemed to be unsafe due to the risk of terrorism. Fortunately, Pakistan were able to play their cricket in exile in the United Arab Emirates, a place where the risk was terrorism was far lower than in Pakistan. However, teams were still wary of playing Pakistan.

Human cost is the most obvious of any war and Pakistan is no different. The War against Terrorism has produced extremely high levels of loss of life and has only added to the negative outlook on Pakistan from elsewhere. In March 2013, it was announced that Pakistan had lost over 49,000 lives; a number which continues to grow. The most affected group, in terms of casualties, injuries and disabilities caused by attacks by terrorists, other than civilians has been the armed forces. Many members of the armed forces have been killed due to military operations against terrorists or drone strikes. During the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers six policemen and two civilians were killed and several of the team, including captain, Mahela Jayawardene, and vice-captain, Kumar Sangakkara, received injuries and opening batsman Tharanga Paranavitana was admitted to hospital with a serious injury. Another aspect of human costs is social costs. The threat of terrorist attacks put the Pakistani people on edge. Attacks were becoming scarily frequent and seemed to be all that was ever on the news. It forced the people of Pakistan to constantly be aware of the threat of terrorism, and some were worried to leave their homes. This fear did not help the Pakistan economy, which was still trying, and failing, to recover from the 2008 global financial crisis. People not leaving their homes because they believe that the streets are not safe means that they are not spending as much as they would do normally into the economy. These social troubles as a result of terrorism levels are so bad for Pakistan as it lowers the standard of living across the nation. This, therefore, lowers happiness throughout the country and can lead to several things, such as civil unrest.

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Another social implication of the various terror attacks in Pakistan has occurred due to the effects on the economy. The sheer number of suicide bombings has inflicted colossal damage to physical infrastructure. This has led to great amount of government budget being spent on repairing this infrastructure, therefore the socio-economic situation was adversely affected to the efforts of combatting poverty levels. Counter terrorism campaigns also led to social and psychological sufferings to the militants involved. In addition, it is estimated that nearly five million people have been left internally displaced, people who are forced to leave their homes but still remain within the borders of the country, across Pakistan. This is because many people, especially in the tribal areas in the North-West of Pakistan were forced to leave their homes as a result of the conflict against terrorist organisations carried out by Pakistani militants. In fact, only around 1.1 million people have been confirmed to be displaced by the fighting in the North-West, but many millions have been left unregistered.

In the modern day, Pakistan’s international identity is being torn to shreds. It announces itself as a frontline state in the international War against Terrorism. However, this statement has been a detriment as the news of terror attacks with devastating consequences within Pakistan seem never-ending. This does nothing but damage the reputation of Pakistan. Alongside the ideas of Pakistan’s role in the spread of nuclear weapons, the worldwide perception of Pakistan is being pushed closer and closer towards one of the so-called ‘failed states’. Irrespective of the realities of what Pakistan is truly like, the projected image is that it is an unstable nation, and that ideology is gaining currency. Within the western world there is a common belief that Pakistan had caught and killed an entire stronghold of the terrorist organisation: Al Qaeda. This has sincerely damaged the image which Pakistan aims to formulate.

There are a number of factors which have shaped the image and reputation of Pakistan over a large span of time. In the past, Pakistan has been a nation of political dysfunctionality, weak law enforcement and a nation that made people fear that the military may take over politically due to the amount of power they had. Those were associated with Pakistan many years ago and in the last 1.5 – 2 decades these connotations have been less prominent within the Pakistani image. However, within the last couple of decades a series of different problems have arisen. These include their struggles in the War against Terrorism, their nuclear credibility and, perhaps the most surprising, their Islamic identification.

Much of terrorism is carried out by openly Islamic organisations such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State. These terrorist groups have carried out numerous attacks throughout the world, a number of which have taken place within western society. For example, the terror attacks In Paris in November 2015 left 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Suicide bombers hit a concert hall, a major football stadium, restaurants and bars almost simultaneously leaving Paris reeling from the devastation caused. This attack, and a number of others, struck fear into the hearts of many within western culture. On top of this, a racism was created. People quickly came to the misguided conclusion that all Muslims are the same. They became scared of those belonging to the Muslim faith because of the actions of the few: Islam had become stereotyped.

Despite being a Western ally, Pakistan has been constantly criticized for not doing enough in the War against Terrorism by Western political leaders and the Western media. Furthermore, the country’s unstable political outfit did not improve their worldwide image abroad.

. The western media have portrayed Pakistan as a terror-loving nation for their lack of action the War against Terror, but the Pakistani people link the increased levels of violence and terror to the War on Terror in the United States of America and Pakistan’s relentless commitment to supporting it. Increased levels of violence within Afghanistan haven’t helped keep the terror levels in the country at a relatively safe level either. In a 2008 survey poll carried out by Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, 80% of Pakistani people surveyed disapproved of the Pakistani government’s decision to support the US War on Terror. In another survey carried out in 2013, only 35% of Pakistanis support using the army to fight against extremists. Having supported the US, Pakistan has made itself an obvious target for terrorist organisations. Furthermore, with terrorist organisations being so present within the tribal areas of Pakistan, more and more people were being persuaded or coerced into being converted to jihadism. Seeing people converted to radicalism only worsens the public image, not only to the rest of the world, but the Pakistan people themselves.

One of the worst impacts of the loss of cricket to Pakistan was the impact on the economy. The Pakistani economy has taken a severe negative hit as a result of terrorism. However, this downturn cannot be solely blamed on the impacts of terrorist violence as there are several other factors which must be taken into account. The most impactful of these other factors would be the financial crisis in 2009. Other factors include an undemocratic government, huge disruption of energy supply to the industrial sector and the adverse weather conditions as severe floods destroy the agricultural system almost every year.

With the War on Terrorism having expanded across almost all of Pakistan, the economic effects have become widespread. Due to the troubles with terrorism, there have had to be increased levels of domestic security in order to protect the people of Pakistan. This has exacted an extremely high cost on the economy. Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance carries out an annual Economic Survey every fiscal year. Using the results from these surveys, it can be calculated that cost of the War on Terrorism over a decade (from 2001 to 2010) amounts to almost $68 million dollars. Moreover, the costs of war has increased throughout that decade. In the 2001-2002 survey, the cost of war amounted to $2.479 billion. By the 2005-2006 survey, this had increased to $4.670 billion. From this point on the costs began to increase dramatically as in 2006-2007 the cost was $6.940 billion, in 2007-2008, $9.180 billion, in 2008-2009, $13.560 billion, and by the 2010-2011 survey, the cost of the War on Terrorism in Pakistan had risen to $17.830 billion. A lot of this is down to the increased security levels across the country to protect the people. On top of this, any public events that were to take place required extremely high levels of security as these were often targets for terrorist attacks, such as suicide bombings. These costs have only risen since 2011 and have showed no signs of stagnating. Despite recent cricket tours from other nations to Pakistan, the levels of security required to put these events was so high that it was difficult to earn as much profit as they would have done if the country were terrorist free. However, this additional security is needed to even tempt other national teams to venture to Pakistan for a cricket series because of the horrendous incident in Lahore in 2009.

If the Cricket World Cup had been held in Pakistan it would have been economically beneficial for the country. Pakistan were due to host the 2011 Cricket World Cup alongside India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, but after the terror attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team, the ICC deemed it unsafe for the world cup to be hosted there as fans would be in danger as these would become obvious targets for terrorists. In the recent 2019 Cricket World Cup hosted within the UK, the attendance figures came to a total of around 752,000 and was the most watched cricket competition with over 2.6 billion views around the world. The attendance to the various matches in the 2011 Cricket World cup was just over 1.2 million because of the large cricketing fanbase within the subcontinent, in countries such as India and Bangladesh. If Pakistan had been allowed to host this competition alongside those nations the attendance only would have increased, and it would have been far too much of a risk. The ICC made the correct decision in removing Pakistan from the list of nations that were to host that World Cup.

However, if the World Cup were to be held in Pakistan it would have been a huge economic boost for the country. Still feeling the effects of the financial crisis in 2008, the country would have benefitted immensely from the gate money they would have received from the event, the tourism during the event, and the tourism after the event as a result of the publicity that the country would have received over the course of the tournament. Due to the love of cricket in the subcontinent and one of the largest attendance figures ever recorded at a world cup, the economies of the host nations grew significantly. Pakistan’s GDP growth in 2011 was only 2.7%. This is lower than each if the host nations as India’s grew 5.2%, Bangladesh’s grew 6.5% and Sri Lanka’s grew 8.4%. This clearly shows the effect of hosting the world cup. Furthermore, if Pakistan had been allowed to host, their sporting facilities would have improved dramatically. Examples of this are obvious everywhere as before every major sporting tournament or event, the host nation improve their facilities significantly. The most distinct example of this, is the improvements as a result of the 2012 Olympics. Aiming to host one of the first sustainable Olympic games, Great Britain built numerous structures that are still used for the same or different purposes: the Olympic stadium now hosts Premier League football, Stratford station has undergone improvements and there is now far more residential housing as well as more expensive houses. In Pakistan, the upkeep of cricket stadiums and facilities had begun to slip and had they been allowed to host the Cricket World Cup this general uplift in quality would have taken place.

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The Effects of Terrorism on Pakistan and Its Impact in the World of Sport: Role of Suicide Bombings and Abductions. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-effects-of-terrorism-on-pakistan-and-its-impact-in-the-world-of-sport-role-of-suicide-bombings-and-abductions/
“The Effects of Terrorism on Pakistan and Its Impact in the World of Sport: Role of Suicide Bombings and Abductions.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-effects-of-terrorism-on-pakistan-and-its-impact-in-the-world-of-sport-role-of-suicide-bombings-and-abductions/
The Effects of Terrorism on Pakistan and Its Impact in the World of Sport: Role of Suicide Bombings and Abductions. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-effects-of-terrorism-on-pakistan-and-its-impact-in-the-world-of-sport-role-of-suicide-bombings-and-abductions/> [Accessed 5 Feb. 2023].
The Effects of Terrorism on Pakistan and Its Impact in the World of Sport: Role of Suicide Bombings and Abductions [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 5]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-effects-of-terrorism-on-pakistan-and-its-impact-in-the-world-of-sport-role-of-suicide-bombings-and-abductions/
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