Year 2017 witnessed an insignificant reduction of violence in Pakistan. In 950 overall violent incidents (security forces actions and militant attacks combined), 1395 people were killed while 1965 others were injured. Civilians continued to be the worst sufferers as 585 civilians were killed and 1580 others were injured followed by 561 killings belonging to militants. 249 security personnel lost their lives while 331 others were injured.
A further reduction in militant attacks was observed in 2017 as 420 militant attacks were reported as compared to 513 militant attacks in 2016. In these 420 militant attacks, 912 people were killed while 1877 others were injured. The year witnessed almost 18 percent reduction in militant attacks and six percent reduction in resultant deaths while the number of injured has gone up by almost two percent. It may be noted that number of injuries had also witnessed an increase last year suggesting that militants have resorted to those type of attacks that caused more injuries. Among the deaths resultant from militant attacks, 64 percent were civilians while 25 percent were security forces personnel and 11 percent militants. While among the injured, 84 percent were civilians, 14 percent security forces personnel and two percent militants. This suggested that while civilians remained the worst sufferers, security forces were also specifically targeted. Insignificant reduction of militant attacks could be attributed to government losing focus on NAP due to political instability and anti-Pakistan groups operating from Afghanistan receiving renewed support and push. A 35 percent increase in suicide attacks was recorded in 2017 which explain the enormity of the situation.
Balochistan was the most affected region as 183 militant attacks (almost 44 percent of total attacks) were recorded in which 308 people were killed and 772 others were injured. While the civilian deaths were highest in Balochistan among the other regions, the number of attacks and resultant deaths of security forces personnel were also highest when compared with other regions. FATA was the second most affected region where 102 militants’ attacks were reported in which 339 people were killed and 614 others were injured. In fact, number of deaths and injuries outnumbered such figures in Balochistan suggesting that militant attacks in FATA were comparatively more lethal. 75 militant attacks were recorded in KPK in which 92 people were killed and 175 others injured. 40 militant attacks were recorded in Sindh while 15 attacks were reported from Punjab. Notwithstanding the deadliest attack in Sindh during the year, overall security situation in the province improved considerably. Militants also tried to make Punjab a new conflict zone though security forces largely managed to control the situation.
From state side, reduction in security forces action was observed visible from reduction in deaths although security forces also started operational Radd-ul-Fasad across the country as well as Operation Khyber-IV in Khyber Agency. Since operation Radd-ul-Fasad was also focused on criminal elements (that forces believe have direct nexus with militants) but also the facilitator of militants and thus reduction of killings among the militants was quite natural.
On external front, Pakistan’s relations with the US deteriorated during the year with the possibility that it might witness further pressure as the US, while considering expanding Afghan war into Pakistani territory and resorting to unilateral actions, has opted for the use of force as means to coerce militants to come to negotiation table against Pakistani and regional desire to find a political settlement of the issue while making joint efforts for fighting Daesh which is increasingly gaining foothold in Afghanistan. Pakistan-US relations remained centered on Afghanistan. Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan witnessed a mixed trend though it never became ideal during the year, however, a regional effort has been seen to try an economic route that might pay dividends in days to come provided that it is not seen as strategic manoeuvring by extra-regional players.
On India-Pakistan front, notwithstanding some positive developments towards the end of the year, their bilateral relations remained tense as India tried to put Pakistan into a three-front war scenario (internal, east and west). In Kashmir, civilian unrest continued amidst more violence while India also adopted some measures to internalize the troubled region. Despite use of oppressive measures and human rights violations in Kashmir, India managed to hoodwink the international community while also managing to attract further tilt from the US. Iran-Pakistan relations remained in “one step forward, one step backward” mode. While the desire for improving relations was occasionally demonstrated, irritants as well as foreign policy choices held both the countries back. China-Pakistan relations continued to improve and both the countries entered into crucial phase of the CPEC beyond energy and connectivity projects
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