Visible Reduction in Violence but Problem Still Persists
A substantial increase in overall violence (militant attacks and security forces actions combined) in the country was observed in February 2017. In February, 114 overall incidents were recorded in which at least 288 people were killed including 118 civilians, 148 suspected militants and 22 security forces personnel while 469 others were injured including 420 civilians, 36 security forces personnel and 13 suspected militants. At least 203 suspected militants were arrested.
After a comparative reduction in violence in the country, a sudden wave of militant attacks in almost all regions of the country started that seriously dented sense of security. Militants of various shades struck not only FATA but also in Punjab, KPK, Balochistan and Sindh. In 40 militant attacks, 163 people were killed including 118 civilians, 23 militants, and 22 security forces personnel while 447 others were injured including 420 civilians and 27 security forces personnel.
The level and intensity of latest wave of violence can be gauged from the fact that six suicide attacks were reported in February which is unprecedented since start of militancy in 2001. A significant development related to militancy was reporting of incidents in AJK which previously remained out of reach and focus of militants. Another notable aspect of militant attacks in the country was involvement in these attack of three major militant outfits including TTP, TTP Jamat ul Ahar and Daesh.
The level and intensity of latest wave of violence can be gauged from the fact that six suicide attacks were reported in February which is unprecedented since start of militancy in 2001. Last significant militant attack was reported in November last year in Balochistan when a shrine in Khuzdar district was attacked. In the intervening period, a suicide attack in December was also reported in Punjab but its impact was negligible. A significant development related to militancy was reporting of four incidents in AJK – an area that largely remained out of reach and focus of militants. Another notable aspect of militant attacks in the country was involvement in these attack of three major militant outfits including TTP, TTP Jamat ul Ahar and Daesh. In the wake of sudden increase in violence, Pakistan Army on 22 February announced the initiation of a key countrywide urban counterterrorism operation, code-named Raddul Fasaad, to deal with the problem of resurgent terrorism in the country. An announcement by the military’s public affairs wing — Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) — said the Pakistan Army had launched ‘Operation Raddul Fasaad’, which broadly means “elimination of disorder/mischief”.
On 5 February, Kashmir Solidarity Day was observed across Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) with a pledge to seek a resolution of the issue in accordance with United Nations resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people. A minute of silence was observed at 10am across the country. In the federal capital, members of the Kashmir Committee of the National Assembly, led by MNA Ijazul Haq, visited the offices of the UN and handed over a memorandum to its resident representative. The memorandum addressed to the UN secretary general called on the world body to ensure that Kashmiris got their right to self-determination. Rallies, seminars, walks and meetings were held in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Sargodha, Multan, Faisalabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Dera Ismail Khan, Sialkot, Chiniot, Vehari, Sadiqabad, Nawabshah and in various cities in AJK, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
During February, a comparative reduction in violence in Balochistan was observed where eight militant attacks were reported in which seven people including five security forces personnel were killed and 30 others including 15 security forces and the same number of civilians were injured. Among five security forces killed were two personnel of bomb disposal squad who were killed during defusing a bomb in Quetta suggesting how ill-equipped these BDS officials are despite the fact that the country is facing worst kind of militancy for over a decade. Had security forces not averted some attacks including defusing of some IEDs, casualty figures of the province might have given a different outlook. Monthly comparison of militant attacks in Balochistan.
Sindh witnessed worst militant attack when militants carried out a suicide attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar at Sehwan Sharif in Jamshoro district killing at least 77 people while injuring 250 others. Daesh claimed responsibility of the attack. In addition to this, cracker attack in Karachi caused injuries to at least 24 people.Although overall security situation in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K) remained stable yet there are signs that militants are trying to create unrest in this region too. One sectarian nature of militant attack was noticed in Muzaffarabad where a Shia cleric affiliated with Masjlis-e-Wahadat ul Mulmeen was killed in an incident of target killing. Security forces also conducted at least three operations in AJK and arrested nine suspects. Notably, law enforcement agencies arrested five Afghan nationals while seizing 80 kilograms of explosive material from Bagh district.
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