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Prevention and Countering Terrorism in Balochistan, Pakistan

A seminar on, “Prevention and Countering Terrorism in Balochistan, Pakistan” was jointly organized by Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering, and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) and Peace, Development, Research, and Education (PDRE) on June 26th, 2024 at 11 am at the Training Hall, BUITEMS, Quetta, Balochistan. In the current interconnected landscape of the global community, terrorism poses a significant threat that transcends borders and requires a collective response from all nations. It is imperative to recognize that the challenge of terrorism cannot be successfully addressed in isolation, underlining the necessity for international cooperation and collaboration in combating this complex issue.

Pakistan has suffered a lot due to terrorism at the beginning of the 21st century. In the war against global terrorism, Pakistan lost more than 830000 people and more than $126 billion. All provinces of the country were affected by the menace of terrorism but Balochistan province suffered a lot due to different forms and manifestations of terrorism including suicide bombing and terrorist attacks. Terrorism in Balochistan harmed women, children, the aged, and young people. There is a need of peace advocacy and to spread awareness among young people particularly students and faculty of Balochistan educational institutions about the harmful impact of terrorism on society and prepare them to counter terrorism mentally and physically and save the society from the devastations of this menace. The feedback highlights that the said seminar proved a solid step in strengthening awareness and preparing the youth for united efforts against the scourge of terrorism in Balochistan.

Foreign investment in different projects in different parts of the country particularly in Balochistan has paved the way for raising the living standard of common people. For instance, the Gwadar Development project ushered in a new era for local people. Gwadar University was established there, providing higher education at the doorstep of local people. It was implausible without the Gwadar Deep Seaport project. It provided drinking water to local people which was a big issue for the local people. It provided electricity to local people and other facilities too. The new International airport and highways were constructed with Chinese financial support under CPEC.

Terrorism harms foreign investment and foreign-supported development projects launched under a win-win model for local people's benefit. It is important to understand that terrorism is a menace that is compromising the future of our young generation. It should be countered in all its forms and manifestations.

After the recitation of the holy Quran and the National Anthem of Pakistan the stage secretary, Ms. Fiza Batool, a BS student introduced the topic of the seminar and showed the video clips of Terrorist attacks on the stock exchange in Karachi and then on Gwadar port for the information of the participants. Four Keynote speakers delivered presentations/speeches in the seminar.

Prof. Dr. Abdul Wadood, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, BUITEMS, Quetta, Balochistan delivered his thought-provoking presentation on, "Terrorism trends in Balochistan: Changing dynamics and new challenges.".

The learned speaker explained the devastations of terrorism in Balochistan since the start of the 21st century and highlighted different aspects of terrorism in the context of terrorist attacks in Balochistan. The speaker elaborated on how it impacted the daily lives of people and how it caused disruptions in the human resource development and facilitation of people's living. Furthermore, he provided an insight into the historical context of terrorism and explored the past waves of violence in Balochistan. Moreover, he expressed his views on the ethnic dimension of the violence and also used statistical data to augment his arguments. He critically analyzed the current dimension of terrorism in Balochistan and highlighted opportunities for the people of Balochistan in the CPEC mega project which Pakistan has started in collaboration with China. By wrapping up his views, he provided several solutions to address the preexisting tensions of violence and terrorism in Balochistan.

Dr Siraj Bashir, Director, Research Balochistan Think Tank Network, Balochistan. Spoke on peacebuilding in Balochistan in the context of terrorist attacks and explained youth engagement will help in countering terrorism in Balochistan. There is dire to address the genuine socio-economic issues of the people of Balochistan.

The government should provide opportunities to young people which will reduce their reliance on sardars / feudalism. Young people in a democratic government have freedom of expression, which enables them to express themselves without much ado. Regarding teaching at a higher-level Dr Siraj Aziz said that instead of teaching students to memorize information and learn by rote, the curriculum should emphasize the development of logical and critical thinking.

If we develop the right strategies and policies today to meaningfully engage the youth in the province, provide quality education, and secure future socio-economic development, the youth will not be at risk of becoming marginalized, intolerant, vulnerable to social ills, and they will play their due role in local, provincial and national development.

Ms. Faiza Mir, a faculty member in the International Relations Department at the University of Balochistan, Quetta discussed countering terrorism in the context of conflict management. She particularly explained Conflict Management at the National Level: A Case Study of Balochistan. In her speech, Ms. Faiza Mir discussed International, regional, and national aspects of the conflict in Balochistan.

Ms. Faiza Mir began her thoughtful presentation with an explanation of conflict management and its importance in the context of countering terrorism in Balochistan. Furthermore, she delved into the various strategies that can be used to tackle the conflicts peacefully and without using violence.

As her topic of discussion ranged to the national level, she provided insight into the case study of Balochistan to resolve the issues and conflicts. She presented several case studies throughout history to support her arguments and gave an overview of strategies that have already been used to resolve the preexisting conflict in Balochistan. She presented several solutions that can be used to resolve the conflict in Balochistan.

Prof Dr Zahid Anwar, Pro Vice-Chancellor ®, University of Peshawar & Director, PDRE (Peace, Development, Research, and Education) in his speech thanked Prof Khalid Hafeez, the worthy Vice Chancellor, BUITEMS, and Prof Abdul Wadood, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences for jointly organizing the seminar. He discussed the prevention and countering of terrorism in Balochistan and stated that a paradigm shift took place in the South Asian Region when NATO occupied Afghanistan in 2001. The proxy war intensified due to the nature of the asymmetrical war in Afghanistan. Slowly and gradually the world has become multipolar. China emerged as a global economic power due to the pragmatic economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping. The NATO withdrawal was again a big event that ended the longest US War. For the last 24 years, our region remained the center of the war against global terrorism. Unfortunately, internationally and at the regional level India always has left no stone unturned to block any project /attempt or move for the development of Pakistan.