ISLAMABAD: Pakistan experienced 97 militant attacks in February, resulting in 87 fatalities and 118 injuries, the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) said.

Statistics released by the Islamabad-based think tank, PICSS, reveal intriguing terrorism trends for February 2024.

“While there was a marginal increase in militant attacks compared to January’s 93 incidents, the ensuing casualties slightly decreased, with 90 deaths and 135 injuries reported in January,” PICSS said in a report released on Friday.

The report highlights a significant escalation in violence in Balochistan, juxtaposed with a decline in tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) (former Fata) and mainland KP. The surge in Balochistan’s violence can be attributed to terror groups such as banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), BRAS, etc, targeting the election process and related activities, warning against public participation.

Most of last month’s attacks carried out before general election, notes PICSS report

“In Balochistan, militant attacks spiked by 72 per cent in February compared to January, totalling 57 attacks resulting in 42 deaths and 72 injuries. January had witnessed 33 attacks, leading to 31 fatalities and 50 injuries. Notably, 30 out of the 57 attacks recorded by PICSS in Balochistan during February were directed at election activities. The National Party of former chief minister Dr Malik and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) were primary targets, along with attacks on PTI, PML-N, JUI, BNP-Mengal and BNP-Awami,” it stated.

A discernible pattern emerged, revealing that 50 out of the 57 attacks in Balochistan occurred from February 1 to 8. Only seven attacks were recorded after the elections, underscoring the militants’ primary focus on disrupting the election process, considering political participation in Pakistan a threat to their cause.

Of the 57 attacks in Balochistan, 30 targeted election-related activities, with only three election-related attacks reported in the first eight days from other provinces, one each from mainland KP, the former FATA region, and Sindh. Post-election, five attacks targeted politicians, with three in former Fata and two in mainland KP, resulting in casualties.

Overall, 33 attacks targeted election-related activities, leading to 35 deaths and 59 injuries. In post-election attacks against political individuals, five people were killed, and eight were injured.

According to report, in contrast, the security situation improved in the rest of the country, with a 54pc drop in violence in former Fata (merged districts of KP) and a 23pc reduction in mainland KP. In the tribal districts of KP, 11 attacks resulted in seven deaths and 17 injuries, compared to 24 attacks, 36 deaths, and 57 injuries in January. Mainland KP witnessed 23 attacks with 35 deaths and 28 injuries, showing a decrease in attacks but an increase in human losses compared to January.

Sindh experienced five militant attacks in February, resulting in three deaths and one injury, while Punjab reported one low-profile attack with no casualties.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2024

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