Terrorist attacks increase in Pakistan despite talks with militants | thecapitaldebates | latest news

For other South Asian countries, including Pakistan, 2021 has been a year of uncertainty due to the security situation, largely due to the fall of Ashraf Ghani's government in Afghanistan and the Taliban's takeover of Kabul. In 2021, compared to 2020, the incidence of terrorism in Pakistan increased by 42% while the number of deaths due to them increased by 52%.

Terrorist attacks increase in Pakistan despite talks with militants | thecapitaldebates | latest news
Terrorist attacks increase in Pakistan despite talks with militants | thecapitaldebates | latest news

According to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), a think tank that monitors the extremist, armed groups and security situation in the region, there were 207 terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2021, including five suicide attacks. ۔ The attacks claimed 335 lives. In the year 2020, the number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan was 146 and these attacks resulted in 220 deaths.

According to the PIPS report, in 2021, 177 personnel of Pakistan's security agencies including army, police, FC and Levies were killed in attacks and the number of civilians killed last year was 126. 97 security personnel were killed. Last year, 32 militants were killed in suicide attacks and security forces retaliation, the report said. The attacks on security agencies involved the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, ISIS Khorasan and other nationalist Sindhi and Baloch extremist groups.

Increase in terrorist attacks

The PIPS report said that in 2021, the highest number of terrorist incidents and deaths in Pakistan was in the border provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

There were 111 terrorist incidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last year in which 169 people were killed and 122 injured. The highest number of 53 terrorist attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was in the tribal districts of North and South Waziristan.

In this province of Pakistan, six attacks were carried out on anti-polio teams or their security personnel. According to the PIPS report, the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), its other armed groups and ISIS Khurasan were involved in most of the attacks.

It should be noted that on August 15, 2021, the Ashraf Ghani government in Afghanistan was overthrown and the Taliban took control of the country. After the Afghan Taliban took control, a series of peace talks with the banned TTP was launched by the Pakistani government in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government and the banned TTP announced a month-long ceasefire on November 9, 2021, due to negotiations mediated by the Afghan Taliban. Exactly one month later, on December 9, the banned organization announced the end of the ceasefire and accused the Pakistani government of not fulfilling its promises made during the talks.

On the other hand, the Pakistani government has not yet shared the details of these talks with the media or parliament. Last month, however, Pakistan's Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid made it clear that the government had no direct contact with the banned TTP at the moment, although "indirect contacts" remained.

Balochistan is the second province affected by terrorism

Balochistan is the second province in the country bordering Afghanistan. According to the PIPS report, Balochistan is the second most affected province by Pakistan in 2021. The report said that 136 people were killed in 81 terrorist attacks in Balochistan last year, which were carried out by religious militants and Baloch nationalist organizations.

Of the 81 terrorist attacks in the province in 2021, 71 were carried out by banned nationalist organizations such as the Baloch Liberation Army, Balochistan Liberation Front, Baloch Republican Army and Baloch Republican Guards. According to the PIPS report, 95 people were killed in attacks by nationalist organizations. In addition, 14 people were killed in five terrorist incidents in Punjab and 13 in six terrorist incidents in Sindh.

The reason for the increase in terrorism in Pakistan?

The banned TTP seems to be a big hand in terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to the data released by the banned organization, the organization did 282 in 2021 in which 509 people were killed. The banned TTP figures could not be independently verified.

But why the increase in incidents? "We see the situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the context of Afghanistan," said Iftikhar Firdous, a senior journalist with a keen eye on armed groups in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Negotiations between the banned TTP and the Pakistani government continued before the Afghan Taliban took control of Kabul.

He says the TTP's motive behind all the terrorist attacks before November 9 may be to strengthen its position before the talks. They claim that there is still some tension between Pakistan and the banned TTP.

On the role of the Afghan Taliban in these talks, Iftikhar Firdous says, "There have been contradictory statements from the Afghan Taliban regarding these talks. The first spokesman said that he had no role to play but when Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaki came to Pakistan he agreed to play a role in the talks.The Haqqani Taliban [network] is working to promote these talks, not the entire Afghan Taliban.

He believes that even if there is a reduction in attacks through negotiations, the biggest culprits are other groups of the banned TTP. The TTP consists of several groups and the demands of each group may be different. The biggest challenge for Pakistan in bringing peace through dialogue is to bring the entire TTP to the negotiating table.

Negotiations with Baloch nationalist organizations

Like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Prime Minister Imran Khan's government had adopted a policy of dialogue to bring peace to Balochistan. During a ceremony in July last year, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that he was considering holding talks with Baloch separatists. To put his thinking into practice, he last year appointed Shahzain Bugti, the grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti, as his special assistant for the reconciliation process in Balochistan.

Shahzain Bugti has been contacted several times regarding the progress in these talks but so far no response has come from him. Ali Shah, an analyst with a keen eye on Balochistan's affairs, said: "Prime Minister Imran Khan stood in Makran and talked of negotiations and nominated Shahzain Bugti but practically no action was taken."

He said that if the talks in Balochistan were successful, the attacks would automatically decrease. Giving constitutional and social rights to the people of Balochistan will pave the way for dialogue. Ali Shah said that in the past the government of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had also announced talks with angry groups and in this regard former Chief Minister of Balochistan Dr. Malik Baloch had several meetings but it was not 'followed up'. ۔

He said that Shahzain Bugti belongs to the family of Nawab Akbar but his own political stature is not big enough to move the negotiation process forward. The deployment of forces alone will not end attacks and armed operations, but it will require politicians, the military and civil society to sit together and find a way to peace. 

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