Significant decline recorded in militant attacks across country
National14 HOURS AGO BY STAFF REPORT
While Pakistan witnessed another year of decline in militant attacks, Balochistan saw a surge in militancy as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was operationalised in 2016.
This was stated by a report issued by a local think-tank.
The report for year 2016 issued by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) says that Balochistan remained the most troublesome province in 2016 from where a majority of the militant attacks, maximum deaths, and injuries were reported.
According to statistics issued by the think-tank, Pakistan saw a 30 percent decline in militant attacks and 28 percent decline in deaths. However, there was a 24 percent increase in the number of the injured as compared to 2015.
Average militant attacks per month have further dropped in 2016 from 60 to 42. The average before Zarb-e-Azb was 161, which had dropped to 60 in year 2015.
The overall picture after the launch of National Action Plan (NAP) two years ago reflected 68 percent reduction in militant attacks, 62 percent decline in resultant deaths and 48 percent decrease in injuries.
Over 950 people had been killed and 1,815 injured in 500 militant attacks during the previous year.
The percentage of decline in 2016 was far lower than 2015. Pakistan had seen an unprecedented decline in militant attacks and resultant deaths due to operation Zarb-e-Azb after the APS Peshawar attack.
PICSS Militancy Database shows that anti-state violence had dropped to levels below 2007, which was the year when Pakistan had seen a sudden surge in militancy after the Lal Masjid Operation. However, the number of militant attacks, subsequent deaths and injuries in 2016 remained higher than 2006 levels.
There was no significant reduction in suicide attacks as compared to 2015. PICSS recorded 16 suicide attacks, which included the attack on Charsadda local courts, the Lahore Gulshan Park attack, the Quetta Civil Hospital attack, the Mohmand Agency attack, the Mardan Judicial Complex attack, and the attack on Dargah Shah Noorani in Khuzdar. Lawyers remained the prime target of suicide attacks and other militant activities. Three major suicide attacks were specifically targeted against lawyers. The apparent objective was to frighten legal fraternity from appearing in courts against hard-core militant commanders.
The security situation deteriorated in Balochistan in 2016 as compared to the rest of the administrative units of the country. Although the number of militant attacks dropped by 35%, but the deaths increased by 27%. The increase in deaths and injuries was primarily due to three high-profile attacks: the Civil Hospital attack on lawyers, the Police Training Academy attack and the Khuzdar Shah Noorani Shrine attack. As compared to 2015, there was a 71% decline in the number of attacks, 33% decline in killings and 65% decline in injuries in the province.
Except for Balochistan, all administrative units saw a reduction in deaths and injuries due to militant attacks in 2016.
FATA witnessed a 35 percent decline in number of militant attacks, 59 % decline in killings and 46 percent reduction in injuries. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the number of attacks declined by 13 percent and the number of deaths declined by 15 percent. However, the province saw 46 percent increase in number of injuries due to militant attacks.
Punjab also witnessed an increase in number of injured persons due to militant attacks by 38 percent. However, the number of attacks fell by 63 percent and killings by 20 percent. Contrary to other provinces and administrative units, Punjab saw better trends in reduction of violence as compared to 2015. In 2015, the number of violent militant activities had dropped by 20 percent, while in 2016, it dropped by 63 percent.
Sindh witnessed 26 percent decline in number of attacks and 36 percent decline in deaths.
Militants used several types of attacks to achieve their targets. During 2016, the highest number of deaths resulted due to suicide attacks. PICSS Militancy Database shows that in 16 suicide attacks, 326 people were killed and 879 were injured. Physical militant assaults caused the second highest number of casualties during the year. In 100 physical militant assaults, 270 people were killed and 281 were injured.
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) remained the the most frequently used type of militant attacks. However, a significant decline was observed in the lethality of IEDs. It suggests that quality of IED making has suffered due to consistent pressure from security forces besides improvement in counter IED capabilities. In 2016, militants carried out 173 IED attacks, in which 153 people were killed and 460 were injured. In 131 incidents of targeted killings by anti-state militants, 154 people were killed and 36 injured. Militants also used rocket attacks (4), grenade attacks (35), kidnappings (17), mortar attacks (2), and cracker attacks (11).
Pakistani security forces conducted 1,104 actions against militants across the country and killed 859 militants. A total of 4,142 suspected militants, their handlers, supporters and financiers were also arrested in 2016. In 2015, 1,987 militants had been killed and 6,349 arrested.