PIPS observes in its annual report that terrorist attacks reduced last year, but sectarian hatred grew.
By Zia Ur Rehman
January 6, 2016
Although the Rangers-led crackdown in Karachi significantly decreased incidents of violence in the city last year, terrorist attacks in the Jacobabad, Kashmore, Shikarpur and Sukkur districts indicate that militant networks are now making inroads into rural Sindh, it was observed in a report published by an Islamabad-based think-tank on Tuesday.
The Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), in its annual security report, also noted that the number of terrorist attacks across the country declined by 48 percent in 2015 – 625 – in comparison with 1,723 in the preceding year.
The highest decrease in terrorist attacks was recorded in Islamabad (79 percent), followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (61 percent), Karachi (61 percent), rural Sindh (45 percent), Punjab (41 percent), FATA (36 percent), and Balochistan (36 percent).
In terms of casualties in attacks, FATA was the most affected region of Pakistan, with 268 deaths; followed by 257 in Balochistan, 251 in Sindh, 206 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 83 in Punjab, and four in Islamabad.
Despite a decrease of 59 percent in sectarian attacks, the number of people killed in them increased by seven percent in 2015, 272 against 255 in 2014 because of some major bomb blasts in rural Sindh and Karachi.
About 98 percent of the people killed and over 99 percent injured in sectarian attacks across the country last year were concentrated in eight cities/districts including Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Karachi in Sindh; Quetta and Bolan in Balochistan; the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi; Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; and Parachinar in Kurram Agency of FATA.
Cases of ethnic and political violence in the country also went down by 23 percent, 63 against 82 in 2014.
The number of people killed in these incidents decreased by 35 percent and the injured by 58 percent.
While a considerable number of incidents of ethno-political violence were reported in Karachi (23), sporadic incidents of political violence were recorded across the country largely related to the rounds of local government elections.
The PIPS observed in the report that the “discourse of hatred in the country” had become increasingly sectarian, which militant groups could capitalise on.
The arrests of several high-profile terrorists indicate the increasing vulnerability of the major urban areas of Punjab, Karachi, and the federal capital.
In these areas, radical tendencies among educated youth, from both public and private educational institutions, have the potential to serve the purpose of global terrorist movements as well as local violent radical groups.
It was noted that one such sectarian group with global ambition to capitalise on sectarian hatred was the Islamic State, which had been luring fighters in its camp. The PIPS warned that 2016 had started with an increased influence and inspiration of the IS in Pakistan.