A predominant majority of youth (79.6%) hailing from across Pakistan and studying at the Quaid-e-Azam University believe that the fear factor prevalent in their minds has been decreased as a result of operations against terrorists, extremists and gangs while 7.4% of them say the fear factor still prevails at the same level while 13% view that the fear has further increased.
This was revealed in a quick study of 54 respondents who gave their spontaneous responses while this writer asked a question whether the fear of terrorism has reduced, remains the same or increased amid military operations against the extremist and terrorist groups since the launch of the Zarb-e-Azb.
Out of 54 university students hailing from across Pakistan, 43 (79.6%) have said that the fear factor has been less than it used to be three years back, four (7.4%) of them feel that the fear factor remains the same while seven (13%) said the fear factor has rather increased due to improper security protections. This has been an overall picture while calculating the combined data.
When the data was desegregated along provincial lines, the responses happened to be variant as almost 88% students hailing from Punjab and 100% from Sindh were of the view that the fear of terrorism has been reduced. From Punjab, 2 (12%) out of 17 respondents admitted that they feel that the fear factor still prevails. The students from Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) were either having the feeling of a similar level of threat or fear of terrorism or they felt it has been increased due to insufficient security and safety mechanism.
From Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 4 (40%) out of 10 respondents said the fear factor is less, one (10%) feels it is same and 5 (50%) said that it has been increased. From Balochistan one (33.3%) out of three feels it is the same, while 2 (66.7%) say it has been increased. From Fata one (50%) out of two respondents says the fear factor is less, while the others (50%) feel it has been increased. From Gilgit-Baltistan, four (57%) out of seven say the fear factor is less, while 3 (43%) feel that it is still the same.
The data clearly shows that the people in Punjab and Sindh feel that the situation has improved in these two provinces where people, particularly in urban areas to an extended extent, enjoy their freedom of movement without much fear of any terrorist attack, though with a general care and caution. But the same feeling does not prevail in the people from Fata, GB, KP and Balochistan as they still are facing terror attacks or threats. The respondents from Fata also mentioned of the issue of peaceful and honourable repatriation of temporarily displaced population due to operation Zarb-e-Azb.
There is a dire need that the government looks into the situation and takes measures to ensure the sense of security among the diverse people of the country. The government needs to take stern and needed action as required under the National Action Plan 2015 to build a peaceful, co-existent and inclusive society in the country so that every citizen feel secure and honoured as equal citizen as guaranteed in the Constitution.
(The contributor is a senior journalist and researcher. He teaches the subject of mass media at the Quaid-e-Azam University. Email: shafmunirgmail.com)