Tue, 26 Sep 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 10 (ANI): Pakistan's multiple crises have become the breeding ground for heightened faith-driven terror attacks, marking a 73 per cent rise in incidents and casualties since August 2021, according to security experts within and outside the country.

Pakistani analyst Imtiaz Gul, Executive Director of the Center for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad, wrote for East Asia Forum in March that terrorist attacks peaked in 2013, averaging just under four attacks a day, with nearly 2700 total fatalities.

The latest trends suggest that 2023 may be worse, with almost 200 terror-related incidents and at least 340 fatalities by March. The trend has bucked since then.

As politicians squabble amid an unprecedented economic crisis, the Pakistan Army, the state's principal executive arm tackling terrorism has been bogged down in political fire-fighting and to retain its own dominance and control. Analysts say this has badly hit its efforts to chase the terrorists.

The resurgent violence by ISIS-linked ethnic Pashtun and Baloch terrorists and separatists has been attributed by critics to the Pakistani military's involvement in national politics.

Former Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa in a televised speech on November 27, 2022, just days before his resignation, conceded that the military had been meddling in politics, despite a conscious decision in early 2021 to stop 'unconstitutional interference'.

Even after his retirement, Bajwa admitted to 'managing' Pakistani politicians, journalists and foreign affairs. The chicken has come home to roost with Bajwa's successor, Gen Asim Munir fighting dissension within his own top brass and sections of the politicians led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan's terror spike has to do with the Taliban's return to power in Kabul in August 2021. Far from returning the favours shown by Islamabad for two decades, the new rulers have sheltered Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the umbrella group that has been on a rampage with renewed vigour. Kabul denies sheltering them but is not ready to evacuate them either.

Gul sees "a new terror triad." "At the centre of this violence is a new terror triad. It comprises the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the ethnic Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), the regional chapter of ISIS."In his maiden press briefing in April, ISPR Director General Maj General Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry said that at least 293 people were killed and 521 were injured in 436 terrorist incidents over the past year.

In KP, 192 people were killed in 219 terror activities, while 80 people lost lives in 206 incidents in Balochistan, 14 people in five attacks in Punjab, and seven in six terrorism incidents across Sindh.

The DG ISPR had also said that overall 137 security personnel were killed and 117 injured in anti-terror operations during 2023. By March, 854 people were killed.

Despite the government's declaration of success and a decline in the frequency of attacks in recent years, the TTP and other terrorists continue to operate and carry out major attacks, according to Global Conflict Tracker (GCT), the research wing of the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR), an American think tank.

The GCT/CFR analysis says that the military, which has historically been dominant over civilian governments, is believed to still be providing support to the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other militant proxy groups that often collaborate with the TTP.

According to Gul's analysis, an absence of cohesive civil-military action may also be a major contributing factor. It encourages the TTP to escalate their terror campaign, dubbed as 'proxy terrorists' by Pakistani officials.

In sum, the situation points to each player in Pakistan's crisis - the army, the politicians, the terrorists and even the judiciary - as part of the problem, not so much the solution to the crises that could worsen with time. (ANI)

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