Security Situation Improved but Militants Still Showcasing Intent and Reach through Intermittent Attacks

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While overall security situation in Pakistan remained stable and some reduction of violence (attacks and deaths) was also observed in April but the militants still manage to carry out an attack of significant nature demonstrating their intent and reach. As many as 13 militant attacks were monitored in April in which 12 people were killed including eight civilians and four security forces personnel while 43 others were injured including 35 civilians and eight security forces personnel. In March, 20 militant attacks were reported in the country in which 25 people were killed while 37 others were injured.

 While the number of militant attacks and number of deaths have gone down in April, the number of those injured went high. The highest number of militant attacks were reported from Balochistan region where six militant attacks were monitored in which seven people were killed and 39 others were injured. This also included a high-profile attack at the Serena Hotel in Quetta. Erstwhile FATA witnessed four militant attacks in which three people were killed and two others injured. KPK witnessed two militant attacks in which two people were killed and one injured. Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) witnessed one militant attack in which one person was injured. No militant attack was reported from Punjab and Sindh during the month of April.

 Out of these 13 militant attacks, seven were incidents of targeted killings causing majority of deaths in which seven people were killed including three security forces personnel and four civilians while one security forces personnel and a civilian was injured. Three IED-based attacks were carried out in which one security personnel forces killed and 24 others were injured including 19 civilians and five security forces personnel. Two grenade attacks were also reported in which three civilians and two security forces personals were injured. The militants managed to carry out suicide attack in April and that too in Serena Hotel that is situated in the high security zone of Quetta. Last suicide attack in the country was witnessed in November last year while last suicide attack in Balochistan was reported in February 2020. In the latest suicide attack at Serena hotel, five people were killed while 12 others were injured. In April, 18 security forces actions were reported in which nine militants were killed while 24 suspected militants were apprehended. Two security forces personnel were also injured in these operations.

The highest number of security forces actions were reported from Sindh where six notable security forces actions were monitored in which ten suspected militants were arrested. Five security forces actions were monitored in erstwhile FATA region in which three suspected militants were killed and two security personals were injured.

Balochistan and KPK witnessed three security forces actions each with five militants being killed and equal number of militants arrested in Balochistan while nine suspects were arrested in KPK in those three operations. Punjab witnessed one security forces action in which one suspected militant was killed. Internally, the PTI government had a sigh of relief as joint opposition alliance has developed serious tracks apparently beyond repair though the government is still facing threats from its own ranks and files especially in Punjab.

The issue of TLP and its nation-wide violent protests not posed a serious law and order challenge for the government but also demonstrated that religious right is using religion for political objectives also creating problem for the government at politicodiplomatic front. With regards to economy, challenges lie ahead in the form of ever-deteriorating pandemic situation, low economic growth, rising inflation and unemployment with the government having no clue as how to confront the challenge. On external front, further improvement of relations was witnessed between Pakistan and India as backchannel talks are paying dividend but the question remains on efficacy of this mode of engagement.

Continuously evolving situation in Afghanistan particularly in the wake of withdrawal of international forces amidst no positive movement with regards to Afghan reconciliation process present a nightmarish scenario as security situation in Pakistan is directly linked with situation in Afghanistan. While further engagement between Pakistan and Russia was witnessed, Iran-Pakistan relations remain bogged down in uncertainty and dependent on external factors more than their internal dynamics.

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