Pakistan's biggest province Punjab with more than half the country's population remained relatively unscathed by terrorist violence with just 81 terror casualties in 2013. By contrast, FATA, Sindh, KP and Balochistan suffered disproportionately with 1,716, 1668, 936 and 960 terror-related deaths respectively.
Sindh suffered the most civilian casualties in 2013 with 1285 dead in terrorist attacks. It is followed by 718 in Balochistan, 603 in KP, 319 in FATA and 64 civilian deaths in Punjab. Few terror-related deaths in Punjab, Pakistan's biggest province, appear to be the main reason why terrorism is not seen as a major problem by majority of Pakistanis in public opinion surveys. According to a survey conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI), 42% respondents said electricity is the single most important issue facing Pakistan; while 21% said inflation, 12% said unemployment, 10% said terrorism and 3% each cited law and order, corruption and poverty as the most crucial issue. Only 1% considered gas/petrol shortage as the single most important issue of Pakistan.
|Pakistan Savings Rate as Percent of GDP (Source: World Bank)
|Pakistan FDI as Percent of GDP (Source: World Bank)
It seems that Pakistan's new prime minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif's agenda is set in response to the surveys like the IRI survey which are heavily influenced by the perceptions of his party's political base in Punjab. While the Sharif government is focusing on the energy and the economy, it is hard to de-link these priorities with action on terrorism. With Pakistan's domestic savings rate at an all-time low of just 4.3% of GDP, the country badly needs foreign direct investment in energy sector to revive the economy. Such foreign investment is unlikely to materialize in a big way without first tackling the scourge of terrorism in the country. What is urgently needed is a comprehensive strategy and a clear plan of action to fight terrorism in a coordinated fashion.
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