ISLAMABAD: Pakistan witnessed a record 51pc increase in the number of terrorist attacks in a single year after the Afghan Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in August last year as a result of the withdrawal of the US forces.

As many as 433 people were killed and 719 injured in 250 attacks in Pakistan between August 15, 2021, and August 14, 2022, Islamabad-based think tank, Pak Institute of Peace Studies (Pips) data revealed.

In comparison, it said, the country witnessed 165 attacks that killed 294 people and injured 598 others from August 2020 to August 14, 2021.

These were some of the findings shared in the fifth issue of Pips’ Paper Series released on Wednesday.

The purpose of these analytical papers is to expand the knowledge base of key stakeholders on Pakistan’s Afghan perspective, and its role and interest in Afghan peace and reconciliation.

“The mindless jubilation over Taliban victory is now turning into a rude shock because the evolving security situation under the erratic Taliban rule indicates Pakistan is about to face yet another ordeal viz-a-viz terrorism,” the think-tank said.

The issue while quoting a United Nations report said there was no sign that the Taliban regime was taking steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist groups on Afghan soil. It added that as per the UN report foreign terrorist groups based in Afghanistan take the Taliban victory as a motivation to disseminate their propaganda in Central and South Asia, and globally.

Key terror outfits with active presence in Afghanistan include Al-Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K). So far, the Taliban have acted only against the IS-K because it actively challenges the group’s rule.

The issue underlined that there was a wave of fear and panic among residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the reported return of TTP militants from Afghanistan in recent months.

The publication while quoting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said more than 300,000 Afghans have fled to Pakistan since the Taliban takeover.

The figure contests Pakistani authorities’ claim that about 60,000 to 70,000 Afghans entered Pakistan since August last year.

The issue included two papers expected to demonstrate an overall understanding of a variety of viewpoints and positions mainly around emerging events and developments in Afghanistan and their implications for Pakistan and the region.

The first paper, by Ahmed Ali, evaluated the post-US militant landscape of Afghanistan and its implications for Pakistan in terms of insecurity and terrorist violence. Apart from discussing the state’s responses to tackle extremism and terrorism, the paper also provided a set of policy recommendations.

The second paper by Urooj Jafri discussed at length Pakistan’s challenges and policy responses in the face of Afghan refugees and border control.

The author held with the latest developments, Pakistan, like other countries in the region, officially resisted accepting a new influx of refugees. However, Pakistan still had an opportunity to win the hearts and minds of Afghan people with a sympathetic visa policy and facilitation of cross-border movement.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2022

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