ISLAMABAD: Despite slight improvement in the overall security situation in the country, 2017 saw more suicide attacks than previous two years, according to a provisional report on security situation in Pakistan released by an independent think tank.
The report compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) shows that terrorists carried out 23 suicide attacks in different parts of the country in 2017, whereas 2016 and 2015 had witnessed 17 and 18 such incidents, respectively.
The statistics showed that 1,387 people, including 585 civilians, 555 militants and 247 security forces personnel, were killed and 1,965 people, including 1,580 civilians, were injured in terrorism-related incidents, including militant attacks and security forces’ actions.
The report says that there has been around 15 per cent decline in the number of militant attacks and six per cent reduction in the number of deaths in terrorist attacks.
The Islamabad-based think tank focuses on conflict and security issues in South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia and works as a monitoring body of anti-state violence in Pakistan, according to the introduction given on the official website of the organisation.
According to the PICSS, the situation witnessed in the year could be attributed to different external and internal factors, including renewed support to anti-Pakistan elements operating from Afghanistan and the government in Islamabad losing focus of its counter-extremism strategy and the National Action Plan due to political manoeuvrings of the opposition parties as well as because of the ouster of prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Report says Balochistan saw highest number of attacks; Nearly 1,400 died in terrorism-related incidents
Militants carried out at least 420 attacks in which 912 people, including 584 civilians, 225 security forces personnel and 103 militants, were killed and 1,877 injured. In response, security forces conducted 522 operations in which left 475 people, including 452 militants and 22 security forces’ personnel, dead and 88 people injured. Security forces also arrested 1,760 suspected militants during the year.
The year 2017 saw 113pc decline in security forces’ actions, a reduction of 87pc in militant deaths and 139pc in the number of arrests. Despite a remarkable decline in security forces’ actions, the total number of militant attacks remained less than the last year’s.
The year 2017 saw the highest number of militant attacks in Balochistan where 183 militant attacks took place in which 308 people, including 208 civilians and 84 security forces personnel, were killed and 572 people suffered injuries. The province remained target of a variety of militant groups, including sub-nationalist militants, sectarian and international militant groups. Overall 43pc of the total militant attacks in the country were recorded in Balochistan and 10 out of 23 suicide attacks (43pc) took place in the province.
In response, security forces conducted 134 operations against militants in Balochistan in which 112 militants were killed and 657 arrested.
After Balochistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) remained the most troubled part of the country during 2017. Although, the number of militant attacks dropped by 14pc, the number of deaths increased by 77pc in the tribal areas. Kidnapping by militants also increased in Fata by 113pc.
In total, 102 militant attacks were recorded in Fata in which 339 people, including 206 civilians, 65 security forces’ personnel and 68 militants, were killed and 858 people, including 629 civilians, suffered injuries. As many as 58 security operations were reported from Fata in which 84 militants and five security forces’ personnel were killed. Security forces also arrested at least 79 suspects from Fata.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa witnessed significant improvement in security situation as all indicators saw negative trends. There was 40pc decline in the number of militant attacks and 47pc decline in the number of deaths in the province. A total of 75 militant attacks were recorded in KP in which 92 people, including 43 civilians, 34 security forces’ personnel and 15 militants, were killed while 175 people, including 136 civilians, were injured.
However, despite the overall improvement, KP saw the second highest number of suicide attacks during the year as at least six suicide attacks were reported from the province. In 2016, five suicide attacks took place in the province. Security forces conducted at least 103 actions against militants in which 543 suspects were arrested and 41 killed during 2017.
Sindh also saw a 40pc decrease in militant attacks, but with 84pc increase in the number of deaths during 2017. Militants carried out 40 attacks in the province killing 112 people, including 92 civilians and 17 security forces’ personnel. Another 303 people were injured in these attacks. The province saw one suicide attack during the year. Security forces conducted at least 98 actions against militants in which 110 suspects were killed and 153 arrested.
Punjab witnessed seven per cent increase in militant attacks, but there was 37pc decline in deaths. During the year, 15 militant attacks took place in the province in which 59 people, including 34 civilians and 24 security forces’ personnel, were killed and 208 people, all of them civilians, suffered injuries.
The province also witnessed three suicide bombings -- one more than 2016. Security forces conducted 119 operations against militants in the province in which 105 militants were killed and 298 arrested.
Two militant attacks were reported from Azad Jammu and Kashmir in which one civilian died and five were injured. Three violent militant activities of low intensity were reported from Islamabad in which one person lost his life. No violent militant activity was reported from Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Security forces conducted at least four actions in Azad Kashmir in which 12 suspected militants were arrested. Fourteen suspected militants were arrested from Gilgit-Baltistan region in two security forces’ actions while four suspects were arrested in three actions in Islamabad.
Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2018