Pakistan witnessed 17 per cent spike in terrorist violence last year: Report

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Islamabad, Jan 4 (PTI) Pakistan witnessed a 17 per cent spike in terrorist violence in 2023, with a total of 306 militant attacks which killed 693 people, according to a new think tank report which said banned groups like the Pakistani Taliban, Islamic State Khorasan, and the Balochistan Liberation Army accounting for over 82 per cent of the terrorism-related deaths.

The security report for 2023 by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) released before the February 8 general elections raises questions over the security of electoral candidates and political leaders during the election campaign and polling, the Dawn newspaper reported on Thursday.

The report said militants’ intensifying attacks indicate that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (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 days after the interior ministry informed the Senate that the 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”.

Military sources told the Dawn newspaper that Afgha­nistan has not been able to fulfil its commitments made in the 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.

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

Escalating tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, fuelled 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 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 28 in Balochistan, three in Punjab, and one in Karachi, Sindh, the report said.

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 17 per cent 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, it said.

That comparative upsurge of 17 per cent 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 39 per cent, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by 3 per cent, in Sindh by 87 per cent and in Punjab by 100 per cent.

Experts argued that short-term success in countering terrorism through kinetic approaches neglects the 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 said.

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