Truth Be Told: Conventional Wisdom Fails





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Published on May 26, 2011

Georgetown University's Christine Fair talks with CNN's Anjali Rao about her studies that failed to link poverty and Islamic extremism.

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Will no longer seek Pakistan’s help in peace talks: Afghan president (tribune, Apr 25, 2016)

Terrorism will be eliminated from Pakistan in 'a year or two', vows PM (tribune, Apr 25, 2016)

Pakistani lawyers' group behind spike in blasphemy cases (reuters, Mar 6, 2016)

Pakistan’s Hand in the Rise of International Jihad (NYT, Feb 6, 2016)

The Nation
(June 01, 2011)
67pc want Islamisation of society
"As many as 67 per cent people of Pakistan want the government take steps for Islamisation, a clear indication that for whatever reasons they have lost faith in the existing system. According to a survey carried out by Gilani Research Foundation, 31 per cent people want the government take the required steps at once..."

The Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project
(August 13, 2009)
Pakistan: Growing Concerns About Extremism, Continuing Discontent with U.S.
78% favour death for those who leave Islam;
80% favour whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery;
83% favour stoning adulterers.

Poverty and Support for Militant Politics: Evidence from Pakistan
C. Christine Fair et al.
(May 02, 2011)

The roots of terrorism (dawn, March 18, 2013)

"... Not a single study could make a cogent case that terrorism had economic roots. This lack of evidence culminated in a recent review of the literature by Martin Gassebner and Simon Luechinger of the KOF Swiss Economic Institute.

The authors estimated 13.4 million different equations, drew on 43 different studies and 65 correlates of terrorism to conclude that higher levels of poverty and illiteracy are not associated with greater terrorism. In fact, only the lack of civil liberties and high population growth could predict high terrorism levels accurately.

So does this relation also hold for Pakistan? It appears so. Christine Fair from Georgetown University documents a similar phenomenon for Pakistan. By utilising data on 141 killed militants, she finds that militants in Pakistan are recruited from middle-class and well-educated families. This is further corroborated by Graeme Blair and others at Princeton University.

They too find evidence of a higher support base of terrorism from those who are relatively wealthy in Pakistan. In a robust survey of 6,000 individuals across Pakistan, it is found that the poor are actually 23 times more averse to extremist violence relative to middle-class citizens.

My own work too comes to a similar conclusion. Exploiting the econometric concept of Granger causality and drawing on data from 1973-2010 in Pakistan, I document a one-way causality running from terrorism to GDP, investments and exports.

The results indicated that higher incidence of terrorism reduced GDP, investments and exports. However, higher GDP, exports and investment did not reduce terrorism. The bottom line: when the economy was not doing well, terrorism did not increase and vice versa..."


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