Pakistan’s Terrorism Problem in Light of Identity Construction and Securitisation

  • Faisal Yaqoob

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This dissertation identifies the main reasons for the existence of terrorism in Pakistan, both historically and in its current form. I argue that Pakistan and its neighbouring states use of non-state actors and colonial-style politics has created an environment conducive for ideologies that endorse violence. This environment in turn has led to the proliferation of terror organisations that have attacked Pakistani citizens and institutions. While there have been previous studies on the reasons for terrorism in Pakistan, none have examined the need to assess securitisation moves whereby the state places an issue above normal politics to the level of high security for patterns, threat perception and identity. The patterns identified include how the state securitises identities it considers a threat and how the state constructs and reconstructs identities to counter perceived threats. It further identified the need for re-securitising threats and continuing securitisation policies, especially with changes in identity of the threatening group over time. This way continuity of policies which securitise and conversely encourage terror were observed as were changes in identities observed leading to different securitisation moves. This seemed a significant gap in the literature on the topic given that observations security patterns and their impact on identity furthers the understanding of terror and counter terrorism studies. Securitisation and identity construction succinctly explained the issues of how terrorist thought was constructed, how terrorist groups socialised members into accepting their constructs and how terror was utilised by states against one another.

While being mindful of material changes in power, I aimed to create a narrative about the issue of increasing threat perceptions and how identity of non-state actors, state actors and even the citizenry is impacted by these perceptions, whether it is the state perceiving threats from non-state actors or whether it is the terrorist perceiving a threat from the state regarding their ideology. This two-step analysis demonstrated that terrorism in Pakistan is not simply related to 9/11, which is a topic much contemporary studies on terrorism in Pakistan seem to focus on. There have been instances of terrorism in the state on separate issues such as ethnicity and perceived colonialism such as in the case of Balochistan. To carry out the inquiry, this study concerned itself with identifying the correlation between threat perception, securitisation moves, identity construction and violence, thereby employing a constructivist approach to explain the prevalence of terrorism in Pakistan.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAbdullah Yusuf (Supervisor) & Scott Brown (Supervisor)


  • terrorism
  • Pakistan
  • identity
  • securitisation
  • security

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