Fighting Terrorism in Pakistan & Afghanistan with a Mobile Phone

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The war against Terror is in its full swing since American forces are using drones to target terrorists in the troublesome tribal areas of Pakistan. However, since 9/11, U.S hasn't been very successful in locating terrorists especially Mr. Osama Bin Laden.

The primary cause is gaps in communication between U.S forces, Pakistan Army and the local people - the major source of intel and information on the location of terrorists and their hideouts.

Primary Problem
As you might know, most of the people living in Pakistani Tribal region and Afghanistan are not literate. 80% of them have no access to T.V, internet, radio etc. They are not ‘connected' to the modern world in anyway.

This is the primary cause of failure in locating terrorists. People do not help in identifying terrorists they cannot communicate with the forces effectively. When forces give them incentives, they would identify wrong people as suspects and U.S forces would bomb them without confirming the intel causing lots of civilian casualties.

U.S forces bomb civilians when the local people confirm the targets as potential terrorist hideouts.

Moreover, majority of these people are poor. The U.S incentives are big for them and they provide wrong intel to bag more money.

My Solution

The cell phones are the solution to this problem. In recent years, the tele-density in Pakistan has grown from 5% to 70%. Almost everyone has a cell phone because cell phones are cheap costing around $20 with data transfer facility. The mobile networks in Pakistan cover almost every remote region and are accessible even in the mountains. To maximize the reach and educate people in Pakistan tribal regions and Afghanistan, education and other basic infrastructure can be introduced easily especially the regions where potential terrorists are hiding.

The solution is to provide create a reliable mobile network infrastructure in these regions. People already have cell phones since the new cell phone connection costs only $2. And the incoming calls are free. Unlimited data costs $5 a month in Pakistan used to send emails, videos, audios and images.

Once these people have more phones, the density of the mobile network wills grow organically. Army and security agencies can simply telecast an image or a video of the terrorist and they can close in with accurate intel.

The idea is that security agencies send a message along with an image or a video asking to help locate a terrorist along with the incentive. This way people will effectively look for the person and can give intel instantly using mobile phones and the cellular network.

There are many benefits. Security agencies can ask people to record the calls and conversations and send it through cell phones. U.S forces and Pakistan army can receive proper intel through this and they can close in to identify the target.

Instead of spending millions of dollars on drones, U.S can help a rapid telecom growth in Afghanistan and Pakistan Tribal area. They can provide free cell phones with data transfer to local people and this way they can easily capture terrorists including Mr. Osama bin Laden.

I am sure that once this is implemented, it will be extremely difficult for any terrorist to hide in these regions giving optimum power to security forces. The most important benefit is they will be able to locate the target without killing innocent people.

Rehan Allahwala is a simple guy, who tries and tries and tries and tries even more in what I believe in. I love to work in area's that are un-explored and make lives of people simple and more equal to others. You can learn more about me on www.rehan.com

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