Pakistan witnessed an unprecedented surge in militant activities during the past week, recording 40 attacks across the country, resulting in 31 fatalities and 47 injuries, marking the highest incidents in recent years. The focal point of concern was Balochistan, where 30 militant attacks occurred, indicating a significant deterioration in security compounded by the involvement of multiple militant groups. Motivations behind these attacks are linked to the upcoming elections and regional issues, including strained Pakistan-Iran relations. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for many election-related assaults, signalling a strategic shift in their approach. While not inherently anti-democratic, BLA’s targeting of political figures aims to instil insecurity and pressure on authorities. Security forces responded with 17 actions, resulting in six militants killed and 15 apprehended.
In the recent developments outlined, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi faced sentencing for breaching state secrets in the month-long cipher case, while another judgment in the Toshakhana reference sentenced Khan and his spouse to 14 years in jail. The political landscape was marked by contrasting reactions, with PTI criticizing the judgments, rival parties welcoming them, and civil society expressing mixed views. The timing of these decisions, just before elections, raised concerns of potential political impact on PTI candidates, who were already denied election symbols.
Meanwhile, Gilgit-Baltistan witnessed large-scale protests against wheat price hikes, leading to a complete shutdown, highlighting regional grievances.
On the security front, militant groups such as AQIS, ISKP, ISPP, TTP, and JuA released propaganda materials, showcasing their stances on elections and regional issues.
The resumption of diplomatic ties between Iran and Pakistan, despite a gun attack on Pakistani workers, signalled a commitment to fighting terrorism and enhancing security cooperation. Additionally, a UN report emphasized the significant backing TTP receives from Al Qaeda and other factions, posing a multifaceted threat to the region.
In the context of Afghanistan, the Taliban hosted regional diplomats while China has inched closer to formal recognition of Taliban government.
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(26 Jan – 1 Feb 2024 )