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Counter narrative: the missing link in Pakistan's counter terrorism strategy.

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Technical Report,26 Jun 2017,24 May 2018

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Pakistan is grappling with the duo of religious extremism and terrorism. The country has suffered the most to terrorism due to both its geographic location and policy decisions that it made in the past. Ever since assuming the status of a frontline state in the US-led war on terror, more than 80,000 Pakistanis have died in terrorist acts while the national exchequer has suffered a colossal loss of more than 123 bn. Despite their manifestly gruesome behavior, the ability of the terrorists to retain the support and affiliation of a segment of the society is an ironical fact. It shows the effectiveness of the terrorists narrative and their ability to appeal to the citizens as well as some political elites. Besides the terrorists ability, it is also the inability of the state and its institutions to formulate a coherent counter narrative, or exploit the prevailing one. The terrorists skillfully tailor their narrative to not only appeal to broader Islamic narrative but also find traction with regional and national narratives, developed by Pakistan and assisted by the United States and Saudi Arabia in the backdrop of the Afghan Jihad from 1979 to 1989. Pakistan is fighting the monster it jointly created with the United States and Saudi Arabia, since 2001, but its counter-terrorism efforts have largely remained focused on the kinetic use of force. Extensive military operations have successfully eliminated terrorist safe havens, which they once enjoyed. However, the lack of a scientific and systematic approach to defeat religious extremism on ideological grounds, which lays at the root of the problem, have prevented Pakistan from translating its military successes into a long term national narrative. The prevailing master national narrative that the terrorists exploit is the outcome of a well-orchestrated process 1979-1989 and can only be undone or modified through an equally effective, if not more efficient, narrative building process.

Subject Categories:

  • Unconventional Warfare

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