ISLAMABAD: In 2023, Pakistan witnessed 1,524 violence-related fatalities and 1,463 injuries from 789 terror attacks and counter-terror operations, including nearly 1,000 fatalities among civilians and security forces personnel.

Overall fatalities, including those of outlaws, mark a record six-year high, exceeding the 2018 level and highest since 2017. Moreover, the country saw a surge in violence for the third consecutive year with an uptick recorded each year beginning from 2021.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces were the primary centres of violence, accounting for over 90pc of all fatalities and 84pc of attacks, including incidents of terrorism and security forces operations, recorded during this period. Punjab and Sindh were relatively peaceful as together, both these provinces suffered only 8pc of all fatalities in 2023.

These were the key findings of the annual security report issued by the Centre for Rese­arch and Security Studies (CRSS).

Data shows 2023 saw 56pc surge in violence, militant attacks increased by 69pc

It claimed that the year 2023 recorded an alarming surge in violence by about 56pc — an unprecedented escalation in the last 10 years, with the overall number of fatalities increasing from 980 in 2022 to 1,524 in 2023. This includes a staggering 57pc uptick recorded in Balochistan and 55pc in KP. Punjab saw a 96pc rise in violence though the number of fatalities was very low, followed by Sindh where the fatalities increased by 26pc.

“Nearly 65pc of all violence-related fatalities recorded in 2023 resulted from terrorism, while the remaining 35pc from the security forces operations against the outlaws. The country suffered as many as 586 terror attacks this year [2023], with only 17pc of them claimed by the banned terror outfits such as TTP, BLA, Daish (Islamic State Khorasan) and others. The security forces conducted as many as 197 operations against outlaws leaving 545 of them dead,” the report stated.

An alarming upsurge in sectarian violence was recorded. In 2023, acts of terrorism directed at religious communities and their places of worship resulted in the tragic loss of 203 lives, 88 of them were security officials.

Militant attacks increase 69pc

Another report, released by an Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), claimed that Pakistan witnessed another year of an unprecedented surge in militant attacks as the country saw a staggering 69pc rise in attacks, an 81pc increase in resultant deaths, and a 60pc surge in the number of wounded.

“The year 2023 witnessed at least 641 militant attacks across the country in which 974 people were killed and 1,351 injured. The year 2022 had witnessed 380 militant attacks resulting in 539 deaths and 836 injuries… By combining militant attacks and security forces actions the country saw over one thousand violent incidents in which 1,511 people were killed and 1,440 injured,” it claimed.

As for militant attacks, the PICSS database shows that the average militant attacks per month rose from 32 in 2022 to 53 attacks per month in 2023, which is the highest monthly average in any year after 2015.

KP saw the highest number of militant attacks and resultant casualties during 2023. PICSS recorded 419 militant attacks in KP in which 620 people were killed, including 306 security forces personnel, 222 civilians, and 92 militants, while 977 were injured, including 525 security forces personnel, 402 civilians, and 50 militants.

Within KP, more violence was recorded from mainland KP than the newly merged districts (erstwhile Fata) as the mainland KP witnessed 235 militant attacks in which 336 people were killed including 213 security forces personnel, 67 civilians, and 56 militants while 589 were injured including 383 security forces personnel, 163 civilians and 43 militants. There was an 84pc increase in militant attacks in mainland KP.

The newly merged districts of KP (erstwhile FATA) faced 184 militant attacks in which 284 people were killed including 155 civilians, 93 security forces personnel, and 36 militants while 388 were injured including 239 civilians, 142 security forces personnel, and seven militants. The region witnessed a 59pc rise in militant attacks in 2023 compared with 2022.

Balochistan faced at least 170 militant attacks in which 285 people were killed including 151 civilians, 114 security forces personnel, and 20 militants while 388 people were injured including 195 civilians, 99 security forces personnel, and four militants. The rise in militant attacks in Balochistan was 65pc in 2023 compared with 2022.

Sindh also saw a 40pc rise in militant attacks in 2023 as there were 35 such incidents were reported from the province in which 39 people died, including 22 civilians, 11 security forces personnel, and six militants, while 35 people were injured including 24 security forces personnel, ten civilians and one militant.

An unprecedented rise in militant activities was witnessed in Punjab where 14 militant attacks were reported in 2023 compared to three in 2022. In Punjab, 20 people were killed in militant attacks including 14 militants, four security forces personnel, and two civilians while 14 people got injured including eight civilians, five security forces personnel, and one militant.

Azad Kashmir, the federal capital Islamabad, and Gilgit-Baltistan each witnessed one militant attack during 2023.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2024

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