Countering terror

Editorial Board
Saturday, Jun 15, 2024

At least 11 terrorists, involved in the martyrdom of seven army men, have been killed during an intelligence-based operation in the Lakki Marwat district. On Sunday (June 9), an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded on the vehicle of the security forces in Lakki Marwat district, martyring seven Pakistan Army soldiers. In a statement on Tuesday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the intelligence operation was carried out in response to Sunday’s attack to bring the perpetrators to justice. According to a security report issued by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan accounted for over 92 per cent of all fatalities and 86 per cent of attacks – including incidents of terrorism and security forces operations – during the first quarter of 2024. Pakistan witnessed 432 violence-linked fatalities and 370 injuries among civilians, security personnel and outlaws resulting from as many as 245 incidents of terror attacks and counter-terror operations. This includes 281 fatalities among civilians and security forces personnel.

These numbers are terrifying, but they are not surprising given how terrorism has made a comeback in Pakistan during the last few years. According to the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) database, the year 2023 witnessed at least 645 militant attacks across the country in which 976 people were killed and 1,354 injured. There was an unprecedented surge in such attacks as Pakistan saw “a staggering 70 per cent rise in attacks, an 81 per cent increase in resultant deaths, and a 62 per cent surge in the number of wounded”. The year 2022 witnessed 380 militant attacks resulting in 539 deaths and 836 injuries. The PICSS database shows that there was a consistent decline in militant attacks from 2015 to 2019.

Experts say that ever since the fall of Kabul became imminent, the number of terrorist attacks gradually started increasing. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in 2021 gave a boost to terrorist organizations, especially the TTP, which had found a safe haven on Afghan soil and started carrying out its nefarious activities from across the border. Given Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan, the state told the Afghan Taliban on multiple occasions to take action against the TTP and its affiliated groups who were safely ensconced in Afghanistan but so far the Afghan Taliban regime has been mealy-mouthed about this and has instead been advocating that Pakistan holds a ‘dialogue’ with the TTP. Dialogue with the TTP has been ruled out by the state of Pakistan after the failure of the Bajwa doctrine during the PTI’s tenure regarding the TTP. In April 2023, a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) had pointed out that the resurgence of the TTP was a consequence of a "soft corner" for the terrorist outfit and a "thoughtless policy” towards it, which resulted in not just the terrorists to return to Pakistan but also the release of dangerous and hardened militants from jails as “confidence-building measures”. As a consequence, Pakistan’s peace and stability were damaged – something Pakistan had achieved after countless sacrifices and continuous efforts. This was a tough message and something the state has consistently upheld since then. Pakistan knows it is not easy to eradicate terrorism but we have done it in the past and we can do it again.