2021: Pakistan Saw 56% Rise in Militant Attacks

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Islamabad:

After a consistent decline in militant attacks for six years, Pakistan has witnessed a 56 percent surge in militant attacks during the year 2021 despite a one-month ceasefire by TTP. The statistics released by an Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) show that the militants have carried out 294 attacks during the year in which 395 people were killed including 186 civilians, and 192 security forces personnel while 629 people were injured including 400 civilians and 217 security forces personnel. Pakistani security forces also killed 188 militants and arrested at least 222 suspected militants during the year.

The year 2020 had witnessed 188 militant attacks in which 266 people were killed and 595 injured. Comparison of both the year shows that there was a 56% increase in the number of attacks, a 48% increase in the total number of deaths, and a 66% increase in the casualties of Pakistani security forces. The number of militant attacks in 2021 was the highest after 2017 in any year while the number of deaths was the highest in any year after 2018.

The rise in militant attacks in Pakistan coincided with the Afghan Taliban’s military offensive started in May 2021 and reached the highest point in August 2021 when the Taliban took over Kabul. The highest number of militant attacks in a single month during 2021 was recorded during August when PICSS recorded 45 attacks in which 64 people were killed and 136 injured making it the deadliest month of the year. Despite a one-month ceasefire from November 10 to December 10, the overall number of militant attacks could not drop in both months. Rather, TTP stepped up its attacks after the ceasefire and the last month of the year witnessed the third-highest number of militant attacks (28) in a single month. Although TTP alone has claimed 32 attacks during the last 20 days of December most of its claims could not be verified by PICSS through independent sources therefore not included in the database.

The average number of militant attacks per month in Pakistan rose from 16 in 2020 to 25 in 2021 which is the highest after 2017.

PICSS Militancy Database shows that Balochistan turned out to be the most turbulent province where the highest number of deaths (177) were recorded in 104 militant attacks. The highest number of injured were also reported from Balochistan where more than fifty percent of the total injured (346) were recorded.  The tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (erstwhile FAT) were the second most affected region of the country which although witnessed 103 attacks causing 117 deaths and 103 injured. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (other than the tribal districts) was the third most affected region which witnessed 58 militant attacks in which 62 people were killed and 58 injured. In Sindh, PICSS recorded 15 militant attacks in which 23 people were killed and 29 injured. In Punjab, militants carried out 10 attacks in which 10 people were killed 87 injured. Federal Capital Islamabad witnessed three militant attacks in which 3 people were killed and three more injured while one person was killed in a single attack in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

PICSS Militancy Database shows that militant attacks went up during 2021 in almost all administrative regions of the country except Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan. Balochistan saw 110%, erstwhile FATA (KPK tribal districts) 27%, and KPK witnessed a 111% rise in militant attacks during the year 2021.

In the wake of escalating terror threat, Pakistani security forces had also stepped up their operations against the militants. PICSS Database shows that a 40 percent increase in security forces actions was recorded during the year 2021 compared with 2020. In total, the security forces conducted 207 reported actions/operations against the militants in which 188 militants were killed and 222 were arrested. The highest number of security forces actions were reported from Sindh province where 93 suspected militants were arrested and five were killed in 58 actions. At least 99 militants were killed in the tribal districts of KPK (erstwhile FATA) and 14 were arrested in 49 actions. KPK (other than tribal districts) witnessed 38 security forces actions in which 24 militants were eliminated and 43 arrested. The highest number of arrests after Sindh were reported from Punjab from where Pakistani security forces have arrested 56 militants while killing seven in 32 actions. The highest number of militant deaths in security forces actions were reported from Balochistan where 87 militants were killed and 13 arrested in 29 security forces actions.

In 2021, Pakistan has witnessed 501 incidents of violence (militant attacks and security forces actions combined) in which 617 people were killed including 224 security forces personnel, 205 militants, and 188 civilians while 646 people were injured including 400 civilians 233 security forces personnel, and 13 militants. The share of security forces personnel in fatalities was the highest while the majority of the injured were civilians.

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