Changing pattern of suicide attacks

Fazal Haq

THE 9/11 incident is the most significant factor for changing the world security and particularly that of Pakistan and the neighbouring country Afghanistan, which are known as the hub for Al-Qaeda and all other affiliated violent groups. Militants uses different tactics and strategies to create deterrence and achieve their goals through violent means. Strategies like hit and run, grenade attack, kidnapping, uses of explosive devices and the most important and successful weapon for terrorist is ‘ Suicide attack’ which killed thousands of people so far since 9/11. The last decade of Pakistani history has witnessed some of the worst bloodshed due to the rise of suicide bombing all around the country and even more than Iraq and Afghanistan.
During 2001-6, according to Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) 22 incidents of suicide attacks took place in which 376 people were killed including 65 security forces personnel. In12 suicide attacks out of 22 the target was Shia community which is more than 50% of the total attacks. The tension between the Shia and Sunni communities are coming from decades but the strategic aim of these attacks on the particular sect to create disturbance to undermine the Pakistani government.
A dramatic increase in suicide attacks occurred in 2007 after the operation Silence in Lal Masjid, Islamabad. According to PICSS database, 60 suicide attacks was recorded in 2007 in which 750 people were killed including 280 security forces personnel and more than 1400 were wounded. The increase in number was very much high in one year as compare to last five years attacks which was 22 on the average of 4 suicide attacks annually.The number of suicide hits remain the same in 2008 which was 60 in 2007, killing 904 people during that year.
But the year 2009 proved to be the bloodiest one for the people of Pakistan since Islamabad had joined hands with Washington in the war on terror and military started operation against terrorists in Swat and FATA. During that year, 82 incidents of suicide attacks took place in which 1005 innocent people lost their lives including 230 security forces personnel. On the average of 7 attacks per month took place in 2009 in which 84 people lost their lives on average of per month which is much higher from the previous years. In 2011 a major decline was occurred in suicide attacks which we can consider as a final phase for such incidents.40 incidents of suicide attacks took place in that year in which 625 people were killed including 246 security forces personnel and 1155 wounded including 288 security men.
The number of civilian causalities were decrease by more than 50% than that of 2010.In 2012 the incidents decrease from 40 to 35 in which 176 civilians and 40 security men were killed and injured 428 and 98 respectively. In 2015 the incidents of suicide attacks decreased to 20, which is the lowest figure since 2007. The decline was noticed in such incident due to high physical loses of terrorist and damage their capabilities in operation Zarb-e-Azab.
In the current year, in four months 6 incidents of such attacks took place in which 22 security men and 135 civilians lost their lives and injured 45 security forces personnel and 469 civilians. The recent deadly incident of suicide attack in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Lahore on 27 March, 2016 in which dozens of civilians lost their lives and hundreds of civilians wounded compel the government and security agencies to start operation in Punjab, where militants have strong hold. The shift in policy of Pakistan is noticed in the current year as the number of terrorist incidents increased. Over all 455 suicide attacks happened throughout the country in which 219 incidents took place only in KPK which is 48% of the entire country. Balochistan witnessed 9 %, Punjab 11.33%, Sindh 5% and FATA the 2nd largest figure after KPK 17.5 %. Throughout 6342 people killed including 1373 security personnel and wounded 14029 in suicide attacks since 2001.
This is one of the grave issue for Pakistan to tackle and control such type of incidents in the future because Pakistan faced huge destruction both physically and economically. Pakistan should adopt such policies on the ground level to know the factors and causes behind the motivation of suicide bomber and what compel the bomber to do such violent act. Pakistan should provide training to security forces and make some strategies to stop the suicide bomber or to bring him to minimum damage and casualties. Security forces can make sure the success of operation to root out the evil of terrorism from the country to save the country from future destruction.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.

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