With increased turbulence in Balochistan, country witnesses another year of decline in militant attacks: PICSS

Observer Report

Islamabad

Pakistan witnessed another year of decline in militant attacks and resultant deaths. However, number of injured increased. Balochistan was most troublesome province from where majority of the militant attacks, maximum deaths, and injuries were recorded. According statistics issued by an Islamabad based Independent Think Tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) for the year 2016 the country saw 30 percent decline in militant attack and 28 percent decline in resultant deaths. However, an unprecedented 24 percent increase in number of injured was recorded compared with 2015.
Average militant attacks per month has further dropped in 2016 from 60 to 42. It is worth recalling that the average number of militant attacks per month before Zarb-e-Azb was 161, which dropped to 60 in 2015.
The overall picture of two years after National Action Plan the country saw 68 percent reduction in militant attacks, 62 percent decline in resultant deaths and 48 percent decrease in injuries.
More than 950 people were killed and 1815 were injured in 500 militant attacks during the year. The percentage of decline in 2016 was far lower than 2015 when Pakistan had seen unprecedented decline in militant attacks and resultant deaths due to operation Zarb-e-Azb and National Action Plan after APS Peshawar attack. PICSS Militancy Database shows that the anti-State violence has dropped below 2007, which was the year when Pakistan had seen sudden surge in militancy after Lal Masjid Operation. However, the number of militant attacks, subsequent deaths and injuries in 2016 remained higher than 2006.
Not a significant reduction in suicide attacks as compared to 2015 was recorded. PICSS recorded 16 suicide attacks, which includes attacks on Charsadda local courts, Lahore Gulshan Park, Quetta Civil Hospital, Friday Prayer in a mosque in Mohmand Agency, Mardan Judicial Complex, and Dargah Shah Noorani in Khuzdar. Lawyer community was one of the prime targets of suicide attacks and other militant activities as three major suicide attacks such as Quetta Civil Hospital Attacks, Chasadda and MardanKachehri attacks specifically targeted the lawyer community. Apparent objective is to frighten legal fraternity from appearing courts against hard-core militant commanders.
Security situation deteriorated in Balochistan in 2016 compared to rest of the administrative units of the country. Althoughthe number of militant attacks dropped from 35 % but death increased by 27% and injured increased by 121%. Increase in deaths and injuries was primarily due to three high profile attacks such as Civil Hospital attack on Lawyers, Police Training Academy attack and Khuzdar Shah Noorani Shrine attack. If compared with 2015,71% decline in attacks and 33% decline in killings and 65% decline in injured was observed in the province.
Except Balochistan, all administrative units saw reduction in deaths and injuries in militant attacks.
FATA has seen 35 percent decline in militant attacks 59 % decline in killings and 46-percnet reduction in injuries. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, number of attacks declined by 13 percent while number of deaths declined by 15 percent. However, the province saw 46 percent increase in number of injuries.
Punjab also witnessed an increase in number of injured persons by 38 percent while number of attacks reduced by 63 percent and killings by 20 percent. Contrary to other provinces and administrative units, Punjab saw better trends in reduction of violence compared with 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, 75 percent, and 36 percent decline in deaths and injuries respectively.
Militants used different types of attacks to achieve their targets. During 2016, highest number of victims were of suicide attacks. PICSS Militancy Database shows that in 16 suicide attacks, 326 people were killed and 879 were injured. Physical militant assaults caused 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 as usual most frequently used type of militant attacks however, the significant decline has been observed in lethality of IEDs, which suggests that quality of IED making has suffered due to consistent pressure from security forces besides improvement in counter IED capabilities of LEAs. In 2016, militants carried out 173 IEDs 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). ss
Pakistani security forces conducted 1104 actions against militants across the country and killed 859 militants while 4142 suspected militants, their handlers, supporters and financiers were also arrested during the year. 1987 militants were killed in 2015 and 6349 militants, their facilitators and suspected financiers were arrested.

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