Security situation improved in FATA, KPK, deteriorated in Balochistan and Sindh: PICSS Security Assessment Report
According to monthly security assessment report released by Pak Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) – an independent think tank based in Islamabad – a consistent decline in militant attacks in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has been observed due to military operations in FATA and strong response by state against militants after Peshawar School Attacks in December 2014. However, no letup has been observed in militant attacks in Balochistan while Sindh province saw a surge in militant activities in February 2015 while in Punjab, sectarian violence has increased. While there has been overall decrease in militant activities in the country yet sectarian violence has increased in first two months of the year.
In February 2015, PICSS’s has recorded 177 violent incidents related to anti-state violence and counter-insurgency operations in the country in which 198 people were killed, 242 others injured and 407 suspected militants and their associates were arrested by security forces while 21 people were kidnapped by the militants during the month. Out of 177 incidents, 95 were security forces actions which caused deaths of 84 and injuries to 47 and arrest of 371 people while 82 were militant activities in which 112 people were killed, 204 injured and 21 were kidnapped.
PICSS noted that trend in suicide attacks are once again picking momentum while these were constantly decreasing since November last year (with one suicide attack in November and no suicide attack in December). In these two months, five suicide attacks were witnessed (with two in January and three in February). Notably, out of these five suicide attacks, four were of sectarian nature where Imbargahs belonging to minority Shia community were targeted. Putting in equation the emerging threat of Islamic State in the region – who has shown a sectarian orientation while operating in the Middle East – this increase in sectarian violence in Pakistan points to serious complication in security situation in the country in days to come.
PICSS has also recorded increase in militant attacks in Sindh during the month of February while Punjab also saw relative surge in militant attacks mostly sectarian based attacks.
According to PICSS statistics, 207 overall incidents of violence (militant attacks security forces actions combined) were observed in January as compared to 254 in December 2014. In 207 incidents in January, 414 people were killed while 168 others injured. In February, this number has come down to 177 overall violent incidents with 198 deaths but with 242 injuries (marked increase). This suggests that a marked decrease in number of deaths have been observed but an increase in number of injuries was witnessed. Among 207 overall incidents in January 2015, 82 were militant activities in which 112 people were killed while 204 others were injured. Not only reduction in overall violent incidents was observed but also in militant activities since December last year. In 177 violent incidents in February, 82 were militant attacks in which 112 (marked decrease) people were killed including 55 civilians, 21 security forces personnel and 33 militants while 204 (marked increase) people were injured including 148 civilians and 46 security forces personnel.
According to PICSS monthly security assessment report, security situation in Balochistan is increasingly getting volatile with increase in violence although the federal and provincial governments are treading on the path of development as a means to end militancy in the province. With increase efforts to setup Pak-China Economic Corridor where Balochistan holds prominent importance due to centrality of Gwadar Deep Sea Port, anti-state elements have upped their ant to scuttle any positive movement on developments in Balochistan. Militants in Balochistan have changed their tactics with more focus on targeting infrastructure including gas, electricity and rail networks with their impact being felt across the country.
Sectarian violence increased during the first two months of the year. The PICSS recorded five suicide attacks in first two months of the year, four of them were aimed at Imambargas. On the other hand, five leaders of Ahle-Suunat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) have been killed in February sectarian targeted killings. The president of ASWJ (former Sipah-e-Sahaba) had also escaped in an attempted murder attack in Karachi.
Militants targeted 22 times against government installations including gas pipe lines, schools, electric pylons and telephone towers. In terms of types of attacks, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) remained the most preferable option for militants with its use in 45 incidents across the country causing 22 deaths and injuring 105 others. However, Suicide Attacks were more lethal as three suicide attacks caused 33 deaths in addition to injuring 79 others. In 14 physical assaults indicate that militants are still finding spaces to launch such attacks despite higher risk attached to such activities. 14 incidents of targeted killing were also monitored in which 12 people were killed.
In February, security forces’ combatting militancy across the country has also seemed comparatively lesser than January. Out of 95 incidents, 31 were reported from KPK, 21 Baluchistan, 15 from FATA, 18 from Sindh, 6 from Punjab, 3 from Federal Capital and one from Gilgit-Baltistan.