ISLAMABAD, May 4: There was an unusual escalation in attacks on political parties’ offices and their candidates in April in the country, particularly in Karachi, where targeted killings have become an order of the day for the past two years.
The first four months of the year witnessed unprecedented surge in violence across the country, averaging over 600 casualties every month, says a report titled “Pakistan Conflict Tracker” released by a think-tank, the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), on Saturday.
Besides attacks on political parties’ offices and candidates, the ethno-political violence in Karachi, religio-political terrorism in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and nationalist-separatist violence in Balochistan continued to surge in April, it says.
The deadly wave of targeted killing in Sindh took over 701 lives.
The data collected through open sources suggested that some 2,674 people lost their lives in 1,108 incidents of violence across the country from January to April.
The violent clashes also left 2,386 people injured during the period.
A closer look at the casualty figures shows that civilians remained the major target of violence with about 1,542 deaths. Moreover, the data suggested that the militants fighting against the state emerged as the second major target i.e. 856 casualties.
Clashes with militants, targeted killings or ambushes of military convoys also left 276 security forces’ personnel dead, mostly recorded in insurgency infested areas of Fata, Karachi and Balochistan.
Furthermore, during the four months, 12 CIA operated drone strikes were reported in different areas of North Waziristan Agency leaving about 71 suspected militants dead. Between March 2012 and February 2013, as many as 51 drone attacks killed over 351 suspected militants.
Meanwhile, continuing their sabotage campaign against state infrastructure, militants blew up 39 state-run and private schools in different parts of Fata, Balochistan and KP during the four months.
As a whole, targeted killing topped as the major cause of deaths as 45 per cent of all the violent incidents were of targeted killing in nature. Karachi witnessed the major loss of lives as a result of the targeted killing.
Meanwhile, bomb blasts were the second major cause of deaths. As a result of which, 405 persons perished, including 343 civilians, seven militants and 55 security forces personnel in different parts of the country.
The third major cause of the violence was military operations. In total, 356 persons, including 339 militants and 11 security personnel, were killed in this form of attacks.
From January to April, 241 bodies were also recovered from different parts of Pakistan, most of them in Karachi, Peshawar, Fata and Balochistan. Likewise, 25 suicide attacks left 168 civilians dead.
The data suggested that southern Sindh witnessed major loss of lives during the last four months. After Sindh, KP turned out to be the second major hub of violence with the death toll of 418 and Balochistan followed where national separatist and sectarian violence left almost 403 people dead. The violence across Fata subsided significantly from January.
Moreover, the sporadic waves of sectarian violence and religio-political violence continued to pile up misery across Pakistan with Shia Muslims based in Quetta and Karachi becoming the frequent targets of sectarian terrorists.
A precise look into the trends and territory of violence across the country underscores that the law and order situation across Pakistan continues to deteriorate.
In the first two months, ethno-political and sectarian violence in Karachi and Quetta led to the decimation of majority of the dead.
The security situation in Balochistan continued to reel under the specter of multiple threats i.e. nationalist-separatist, sectarian, criminal, etc.
Latest trends show a spate of violence in targeting the election campaign which has given rise to the religio-political violence in KP, Balochistan and Sindh.