In 2019, militant attacks in Pakistan dropped to the lowest level during the last fifteen years while 44 percent decline in suicide attacks has been observed as compared with the year 2018. Militant attacks in the country have dropped below the level of 2004, the year when militant attacks had picked up momentum in retaliation to the deployment of regular troops of Pakistan Army in FATA. The militants carried out 159 attacks during the year 2019 in which 305 people were killed including 143 security force personnel and 129 civilians. In 111 reported security forces actions, 77 militants, seven security forces personnel and four civilians were killed during the year. Overall, 393 people lost their lives including 150 security forces personnel, 133 civilians and 110 militants in 270 violent incidents (including security forces actions and militant attacks) while 687 people were injured including 506 civilians and 178 security forces personnel. This is the second consecutive year where the human losses of the security forces exceeded the losses of the militants. Previously, this pattern was observed only in 2002 and 2003, while 2004 had seen an almost equal share of the losses.
The average of militant attacks per month has further declined in 2019 to 13 attacks per month, which was 19 in 2018, 35 in 2017, 43 in 2016, 59 in 2015 and 134 in 2014. The sharp decline in the militant attacks had started after Operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014 and National Action Plan at the start of 2015. Operation Raddul Fasad has further pushed the militancy to the lowest level since 2003. When compared with the previous year, 2019 witnessed a 31 percent decline in militant attacks, a 48 percent decline in resultant deaths and a 31 percent decline in the number of injured in these attacks. April was the deadliest month in which 50 people died in militant attacks while January 2019 witnessed the highest number of militant attacks.
Although Balochistan witnessed the highest number of militant attacks in 2019 but a remarkable reduction in anti-state violence has been observed in the province during the year under review. In 2018, PICSS had recorded 99 militant attacks in the province which has dropped to 66 in 2019 which shows a 34 percent decline. 171 people died, 427 injured in Balochistan in anti-state militant attacks. Among the dead, 89 were civilians, 58 security forces personnel and 24 militants. Among the injured 354 were civilians, 71 security forces personnel and two militants.
Erstwhile FATA witnessed a 21 percent decline in anti-State militant attacks however a surge in violence in North Waziristan was the most troublesome issue Pakistani security forces faced during the year. In the FATA region, militants carried out 52 attacks during the year in which 64 people were killed including 45 security forces personnel which is 70 percent of the total deaths caused by the militant attacks in the erstwhile FATA region. 88 people were injured including 57 security forces personnel and 33 civilians.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (excluding former FATA region) witnessed a 25 percent decline in the militant attacks during the year 2019 as 30 anti-State violent incidents were recorded by PICSS in the province in which 46 people were killed and 101 injured. 26 out of 46 dead were security forces personnel while 16 were civilians. 79 out of 101 injured were civilians and 21 security forces personnel.
No change was observed in anti-State violence in Punjab where five militant attacks were recorded in which 13 people were killed and 42 were injured. The year 2018 had also witnessed five attacks and the same number of people were injured (42) however a slight decrease in the number of deaths was observed (13 in 2019 compared with 17 in 2018). A remarkable reduction in anti-state militant attacks was observed in the province of Sindh where militant attacks were dropped to four compared with 15 in 2018. Human losses in the province were also lowest in any year for the last five years. One militant attack each was recorded in Azad Kashmir and Federal Capital Territory in which five and two security forces personnel were killed respectively.
Suicide attacks have also dropped below the level of 2007 when such attacks had got momentum after the Red Mosque operation in 2007. The year 2019 witnessed six suicide attacks in which 45 people were killed including 28 civilians, 11 security forces personnel and 6 militants while 112 people were injured including 101 civilians and 11 security forces personnel. It seems that militants are improving in the use of IEDs as human losses caused by IEDs have slightly increased during the year 2019 compared with 2018 in Pakistan. 84 IED-based attacks were recorded in which 112 people were killed and 441 injured. The fatal impact of IEDs can be gauged from the fact that 37 percent of the deaths and 67 percent of the injured were by IED-based attacks.
Internally, lackluster economy, lack of judicial and police reforms, the tussle between state institutions, stifling of dissent, etc. were the issues of concerns. Externally, Pakistan’s relations with immediate neighbours and key regional and international players were mixed. Pakistan failed to achieve its foreign policy objectives with regards to Kashmir and continues to fear the Indian threat on its eastern border while on the western front, Pakistan along with other relevant stakeholders made notable strides towards a peaceful resolution of Afghan imbroglio.
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