Islamabad—Number of militant attacks decreased in March but escalation in high profile attacks resulted in higher number of casualties in the country compared to February 2016. Dramatic decline in casualties in militant attacks was observed in Balochistan after busting of RAW network at the start of the month.
This was stated in monthly security assessment report by Islamabad based independent think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS). PICSS’s report says that Pakistani security forces eliminated 108 militants during the month of March and arrested 983 suspects from across the country, says a press release.
March was the bloodiest month of the first quarter of 2016 with 151 casualties in 46 militant attacks including 120 civilians, 19 militants and 12 security forces personnel. More than three times increase in casualties in militant attacks was due to increase in high profile attacks during March.
High profile attacks in March include Charsadda local courts attack, Civil Secretariat bus attack in Peshawar, and blast in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park Lahore. PICSS has observed that operational capabilities of the militants have started to improve in 2016 as their command and control structure is well intact in Afghanistan and operating with impunity.
Increase in high profile attacks in urban areas suggests that financial pipelines of militants are reconnected. During intelligence based operations (IBOs) Pakistani security forces had busted their major source of finance through kidnapping for ransom.
A dramatic decline in casualties in militant attacks in Balochistan was observed by PICSS during the month of March 2016. The decline coincides with the arrest of RAW officer Kulbhushan Yadav who was arrested on March 3, 2016. PICSS Militancy Database (PMD) shows that the casualties in Balochistan in March 2016 were lowest since February 2010 (the lowest in last six years).
The province also saw lowest number of militant attacks since March 2013 as only 10 militant attacks were recorded in which only seven people including six civilians and one security forces personnel were killed. Previously, the province was at the top of the chart of militant attacks and resultant casualties in the country for many months. PICSS recorded 45 deaths in 25 militant attacks in January and 22 deaths in 13 militant attacks in February 2016 in the province.
Decline in human losses of security forces in the province is more visible as in January 27 out of 45 and in February 11 out of 22 were security forces personnel, while in March only one personnel died in militant attacks.
Pakistani security forces are looking more focused on Balochistan than any other region perhaps due to CPEC as highest number of security forces actions were also reported from Balochistan followed by Punjab during the month of March 2016.
Senior commander ofBaloch Liberation Army, Aslam Achou alias Merick Baloch was killed and Sabzal Bugti, another senior commander of the banned outfit was injured in two separate incidents. Security forces have also arrested another RAW agent Rakaish Kumar from Gadani area of Lasbela. Suspects apparently belonging to Afghan Taliban were also arrested in two different operations in the province.
In FATA, 20 people were killed including 12 militants, five civilians and three security forces personnel in 13 militant attacks during the month of March 2016. 12 people were injured including 10 security forces personnel while eight workers of FATA development authority were kidnapped from South Waziristan.
Security forces have stepped up their operations in Shawal Mountains to flush out remaining militants holding up in the area. Security forces claimed to have killed 21 suspected militants in the area and captured important heights and passes along the Afghan border. Pakistan Air Force jets and gunship helicopters of Army Aviation took part in the operation along with ground troops.
The Lahore Gulshan-e-Iqbal terrorist blast resulted in start of a military led operation against suspected militants in Punjab. Slight increase in militant attacks was observed in Sindh.
A shrine in Neelum valley of Azad Kashmir was targeted by hand grenade but no human loss was reported while a suspected militant allegedly involved in a number of high-profile terrorist attacks blew himself up while security forces were trying to arrest him in Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan. His wife and a daughter and two soldiers of Pakistan Army were killed in the blast.