• 419 killed, 734 injured in 262 terror attacks during the past year, according to PIPS data
• Think tank calls on govt to ‘civilianise’ CT regime, reorient Afghan policy

ISLAMABAD: Noting that the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was becoming a major irritant in Islamabad’s relations with the Taliban government in Kabul, a leading think tank has called for reorienting Af­­ghan policy, civilianising Na­­t­ional Action Plan (NAP) and counterterrorism regime.

“Parliament is the centre of collective decision-making, and the parliament must take a lead role in counterterrorism efforts. It must build a clear stance on terrorism, and extremism. The subject must not be an exclusive domain of the security agencies,” the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, an Islamabad-based policy research and advocacy think tank, said in a report released on Saturday.

The ‘Pakistan Security Report 2022’ noted the TTP, believed to be operating from the neighbouring Afghanistan, remained one of the major actors of violence in Pakistan in the year 2022, with the number of terrorist attacks in the country marking an increase of 27 per cent from the previous year.

The number of terrorist attacks in the country also continued to rise for a second consecutive year. A total of 262 terrorist attacks in Pak­istan in the year — including 14 suicide bombings — claimed in all 419 lives and injured another 734 people.

The security report noted that the Afghan Taliban’s taking power in Kabul, and the Pakistani state’s persistent ambition to engage in peace talks with the TTP had encouraged the group to regroup and escalate terrorist violence in the country.

It appears uncertain whe­ther “the Taliban will fulfil their promises on foreign mi­­litant groups such as Al-Qaeda, Islamic State Mo­­vement of Uzbekistan, ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Move­ment) or TIP (Turkistan Islamic Party), and TTP,” the report says, adding that so far, the Afghan Taliban had only acted against IS-K.

According to the report, the TTP, local Taliban groups such as Hafiz Gul Bahadur group, IS-K, and other similar religiously inspired groups perpetrated a combined total of 179 terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2022 as compared to 128 in the previous year, which killed 250 people and injured 262 others.

Different Baloch and Sin­dhi nationalist insurgent groups carried out 79 attacks, as compared to 77 such atta­cks in 2021, which claimed 97 lives and wounded another 259 people.

Cross-border attacks

As many 15 cross-border attacks took place in Pakistan during 2022. Out of total, 13 attacks happened from across the country’s border with Afghanistan in KP and Balochistan. These attacks from Afghanistan killed 34 people, including 20 security officials, and injured 52 others.

The report underlines that Afghan border forces under the Taliban regime are invo­l­ved in many of such incidents contrary to the past practice when most of the cross-border attacks from Afghanistan were carried out by the TTP or other militant groups.

The report recommends that the government should come up with a proper mechanism to implement the National Security Policy as well as the revised NAP. There is a need to increase capacity and role of civilian law enforcement agencies that will prevent the terrorist threat to a significant extent, according to another recommendation.

“There should be a zero-tolerance policy towards the terrorist groups, and there should be no negotiations with those who are unwilling to quit violence.”

The report suggests that a very high vigilance level is required to counter the ma­­j­or threat posed by the Baloch and Sindhi nationalist insurgents to foreign engagements and workers in Balochistan and parts of Sindh.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2023

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