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Political turmoil boon for Pakistan's militants

Political turmoil that led to regime change in Pakistan last month was a boon for the militants, who have staged 24 % more attacks on the authority and the civil population alike, new data shows, than they did before the recent government-change. The story looks very similar to what happened in neighbouring Afghanistan in the summer of last year, when the Taliban unleashed a military campaign and eventually returned to power. The number of attacks have not decreased in either countries, confirming worries of the world community of the rise of heavily armed and motivated non-State actors belonging to different groups, fighting among themselves for supremacy and at the same time against the State itself, which ultimately is their common adversary.

17.05.2022 23:59
Piše: Valerio Fabbri
Ključne besede:   Pakistan   Afghanistan   Kabul   Talibans   Balochistan   Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan   China   India

Militancy can be expected not just between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also Pakistan and China. Last month in Karachi University a woman suicide bomber killed herself killing three Chinese academics.

The Global conflict Tracker (May 4, 2022) of the Center for Preventive Action of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) says that these concerns have become ever truer with increasing role of the Islamic State (Khorsan) spreading its bases in both countries. "The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan could increase regional instability by allowing militants from Pakistan to establish a safe haven in Afghanistan ... Additionally, acute instability in Pakistan has security implications for neighbouring countries Afghanistan and India" it says. The common factor is the role of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which grew out of Pakistan in 2007, operated from the Afghan territory, helped out the Taliban as they fought the US-supported Ashraf Ghani regime in Kabul and now cosy up with new rulers, the Taliban, who are also their ideological brothers. The report takes note of the Indian assessment of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region as the turmoil in both countries to its north-west continues. 

 

"The TTP is closely allied with the Afghan Taliban in its battle against Afghan troops, and India fears that anti-state and state-sponsored Pakistani militants could carry out cross-border terrorist attacks. Moreover, the vulnerability of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal to attack or theft by non-state actors remains a major concern for U.S. and Indian policymakers" the CFR says. The new data gathered by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) and published by Dawn (May 3, 2022) records 24 % rise in militant attacks last month as compared to March, the previous month.

 

"In April, militants carried out 34 attacks in which 55 people were killed, including 34 security forces personnel, 13 civilians and eight militants. As many as 25 people were injured including 11 security personnel and 14 civilians. The militants had carried out 26 attacks across the country in March 2022 in which 115 people were killed and 288 were injured."

 

Most of the attacks, the PICSS said, took place in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) followed by main Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, all adjoining Afghanistan. There were 16 militant attacks in erstwhile FATA in which 31 people were killed, including 21 security personnel, seven militants and three civilians, while 10 people were injured including six security personnel and four civilians. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, militants carried out 10 attacks in which 17 people were killed, including 12 security personnel and five civilians, while six people got injured, of which three were civilian and three security personnel. In Balochistan, four militant attacks left one security official and one civilian dead while five people were injured including one security official and four civilians. Interestingly, in Punjab, the most populous and powerful province, no militant attack took place during the month. This was probably because the militant outfits were watching the political drama and counting their options. 

  

Now, over to the so called Afghan effect of the summer of 2021. The PICSS data of that period, begins in May, when the Taliban began to converge on Kabul, capturing provinces and killing people in their homes, hospitals and schools, till August, when they captured power. The rise in militant attacks in Pakistan coincided with the Afghan Taliban’s military offensive. The highest number of attacks in a single month in 2021 was recorded in August, when 45 attacks were carried out by militants, the institute said in its report. It also noted the TTP factor. Despite month-long ceasefire, the government reached with the TTP from November 10 to December 10, "the overall number of militant attacks could not drop". The average number of militant attacks per month in Pakistan rose from 16 in 2020 to 25 in 2021, which was the highest after 2017. 

  

PICSS militancy database showed that Balochistan turned out to be the most turbulent province where 170 deaths were recorded in 103 attacks. The highest number of injured were also reported from Balochistan, where more than 50 % of the total injured (331) were recorded. The tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were the second most affected region of the country which though witnessed a similar number of attacks as in Balochistan (103). However, the number of deaths was less than Balochistan - 117 compared to 170 - and 103 were injured. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, other than the tribal districts, was the third most affected region which witnessed 59 militant attacks in which 63 people lost their lives and 59 were injured. The militant attacks went up in 2021 in almost all administrative regions of the country except Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan.

 

Balochistan saw 110 %, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tribal districts 27 and KP an 111 per cent rise in militant attacks during the year 2021. The inescapable conclusion from the data is that militancy can be expected to dominate the discourse, not just between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also Pakistan and China as evident from last month’s attack in Karachi University when a woman suicide bomber killed herself killing three Chinese academics.

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