ISLAMABAD: A security report for 2020 released by Pakistan institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) has said while the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and affiliates continued to regroup in erstwhile Fata, Sindhi and Baloch insurgent groups also intensified attacks.
The report launched here on Sunday stated that though terrorism was no longer an epidemic in Pakistan, the country faced a more severe challenge of religious extremism.
“There is also little evidence to suggest that National Action Plan has been successful in countering these and the related challenges,” the report added.
The TTP and its affiliates remained the major actors of instability in Pakistan in the year 2020 which perpetrated a combined total of 67 terrorist attacks or about 46 per cent of the total reported attacks in 2020, mainly in erstwhile Fata.
Terrorism no longer an epidemic but Pakistan still facing challenge of religious extremism
“The TTP also successfully brought its few breakaway factions and some other militant groups and commanders into its fold. Another religiously-inspired militant group, the Islamic State, perpetrated two major attacks in 2020 in Quetta and Peshawar.”
While six Baloch insurgent groups were found active in Balochistan, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) were the two major groups which carried out 24 attacks out of the total 34 perpetrated by the Baloch insurgents.
Meanwhile, Sindhi nationalist groups perpetrated 10 terrorist attacks in Sindh, including eight by Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army.
The report added that different militant, nationalist, insurgent and violent sectarian groups perpetrated 146 attacks across Pakistan, including three suicide blasts, which is a decline of over 36pc from the previous year.
However, these attacks claimed 220 lives but it was a decline of 38pc from those killed in such attacks in 2019.
At the same time, the alarming part was that out of the total 146 attacks 95 were perpetrated by religiously-inspired militant groups, another 44 by Baloch and Sindhi insurgents, and seven attacks were sectarian-related.
Amir Rana, the director for PIPS, said despite the statistical decline in the incidents of terrorism, the severe challenge of religious extremism continued to manifest in 2020.
The report referred to the enormous gathering at Allama Khadim Rizvi’s funeral in Lahore, growing individual and mob attacks on minority communities and their worship places, persisting narratives of hatred and hate speech, offline and online and continuing activities of banned religious organisations were witnessed during the year.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa witnessed the highest number of terrorist attacks for any one region of Pakistan, where 79 recorded terrorist attacks with 31 in North Waziristan alone claimed 100 lives and inflicted injuries on another 206 people.
In Balochistan, 95 people were killed and 216 others were injured in 42 reported attacks. Different Baloch insurgent groups perpetrated 32 attacks and religiously inspired militant groups such as the TTP, Hizbul Ahrar and ISIS-affiliates were reportedly involved in 10 attacks in Balochistan.
As many as 18 terrorist attacks happened in Sindh province - 15 in Karachi and three in interior Sindh - killing 20 people and injured 66 others.
Seven terrorist attacks took place in Punjab that claimed five lives and injured 59 people.
Compared to 28 in the year before, security forces and law enforcement agencies conducted 47 anti-militant operational strikes in 2020 in 22 districts and regions of Pakistan.
These actions killed 129 militants while 17 Pakistan Army soldiers were also martyred.
Security and law enforcement agencies also entered into 15 armed clashes and encounters with militants that claimed 38 lives, including 29 militants, seven security personnel and two civilians.
A total of 125 attacks took place from across Pakistan’s borders with 11 attacks Afghanistan and 114 from India. As many as 62 people lost their lives in these attacks, a decrease of about 34pc from the year before. The 62 Pakistani citizens killed in cross-border attacks included 42 civilians, 18 army officials and two FC personnel.
Published in Dawn, Jannuary 4th, 2021