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Terrorism: Tasting its own medicine, terror-friendly Pakistan witnessed a 17% rise in violence in 2023

Terrorism: Tasting its own medicine, terror-friendly Pakistan witnessed a 17% rise in violence in 2023

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Virendra Pandit

 

New Delhi: Pakistan, the state-supported global nursery of terrorism, is getting it back. In its coin.

Actively supported by its all-powerful military-led establishment, home-grown and foreign terrorists are boomeranging on Pakistan to haunt it. Everyday.

In 2023, the Islamist-infested South Asian nation witnessed a 17 percent spike in terrorist violence with 693 people dying in 306 militant attacks, according to a media report on Thursday.

This is despite Pakistan’s claims that it banned terror groups like the Pakistani Taliban, Islamic State Khorasan, and the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), whose attacks accounted for over 82 percent of the terrorism-related deaths.

The security report for 2023 by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), a think tank, released ahead of the February 8 general elections to the National Assembly, questioned the security of candidates and political leaders during the ongoing campaign and polling, the Dawn newspaper reported on Thursday.

The militants’ intensifying attacks indicate that Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates will continue and intensify terrorist onslaught to force Pakistan to resume the process of dialogue.

The report emerged days after the restive and nearly bankrupt country’s 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 failed to fulfill its commitments made in the Doha Agreement as TTP continues to use the Taliban-ruled country as a base for terrorist activities inside Pakistan.

The 2,670-km-long Durand Line, the Pakistan-Afghan border, described as difficult and porous’, poses a formidable challenge despite security measures.

The PIPS report highlighted Pakistan’s inadequate response to the rising terrorism and militancy challenge, exacerbated by negotiation attempts with the TTP and the waning political focus because of ongoing polycrises.

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

The report correlated a surge in terrorist violence with the Taliban’s re-ascendancy in Afghanistan in 2021, underlining 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 Baluchistan, three in Punjab, and one in Karachi, Sindh.

Altogether 306 terrorist attacks were reported in Pakistan in 2023, including 23 suicide bombings, which killed 693 people, and wounded 1,124. The deceased included 330 security personnel, 260 civilians, and 103 militants.

These attacks marked a 17 percent rise from 2022, and the number of people killed in these attacks also represented an increase of 65 percent from those killed in similar attacks during the previous year, it said.

That comparative upsurge of 17 percent 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 Baluchistan province increased by 39 percent, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by 3 percent, in Sindh by 87 percent, and in Punjab by 100 percent.

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 Baluch people, the government should address instances of the people’s disappearances with fair policies, preventing misuse by militants, the report said.

 

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