ISLAMABAD: Banned groups like the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K), and Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) accounted for over 82pc of terrorism-related deaths and conducted 78pc of terrorist attacks recorded in 2023.

This was the finding of Pak Institute for Peace Studies’ Pakistan (PIPS) Security report for 2023, which also said militants’ intensifying attacks indicate that the TTP and its affiliates will continue to resort to an intensified terrorism onslaught with a view to ‘force’ Pakistan to reinstate the process of dialogue.

The report emerged a day after the Senate was informed by the interior ministry that continuous influx of TTP members in significant numbers, with recr­uitment, training and placing of suicide bombers, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s mer­ged districts is “a cause of concern”.

The disclosure of the development with general polls a little more than a month raises questions over the security of electoral candidates and political leaders during election campaign and polling.

Officials blame Kabul’s non-adherence to Doha accords for uptick in terrorist attacks

Military sources told Dawn that Afgha­nistan has not been able to fulfil its commitments made in Doha agreement as TTP continues to use Afghanistan as a base for terrorist activities inside Pakistan.

The Pak-Afghan border, described as ‘difficult and porous’, poses a formidable challenge despite security measures, making 100pc check and control over illegal movements arduous.

‘Inadequate response’

The PIPS report highlights Pakistan’s ina­dequate response to the rising terrorism and militancy challenge, exacerbated by nego­tiation attempts with the TTP and wan­ing political focus due to ongoing crises.

Escalating tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, fueled by issues like TTP and Afghan refugees, demand a comprehensive and sustainable counterterrorism strategy, it said.

The report correlates a surge in terrorist violence with the Taliban’s ascendancy in Afghanistan, noting the Afghan Taliban’s inability or unwillingness to control TTP’s cross-border activities.

In 2023, security and law enforcement agencies intensified anti-militant kinetic actions with 129 operational strikes, compared to 87 in 2022, resulting in 425 deaths and 51 injuries. Of these strikes, 97 occurred in KP, 28 in Balochistan, three in Punjab, and one in Karachi, Sindh.

A total of 306 terrorist attacks took place in Pakistan in the year — including 23 suicide bombings — which killed 693 people (330 security personnel, 260 civilians, and 103 militants) and injured 1,124 others. These attacks marked an increase of 17pc from the year before, and the number of people killed in these attacks also represented an increase of 65pc from those killed in similar attacks during the previous year.

That comparative upsurge of 17pc in terrorist violence was contributed by an increase in the number of attacks reported from all four provinces.

Compared to 2022, the frequency of terrorist incidents in the Balochistan province increased by 39pc, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by 3pc, in Sindh by 87pc and in Punjab by 100pc.

Experts argued that short-term success in countering terrorism through kinetic approaches neglects root causes of violent extremism.

Eliminating terrorists doesn’t address enduring ideological drivers.

To decrease support for insurgent ideas, especially among Baloch people, address disappearances with fair policies, preventing misuse by militants, the report further stated.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2024

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