Despite a visible decline in acts of terrorism, continued military operations, and shifting loyalties within their cadres, militant groups adopted new tactics to sustain their presence and maintain their spatial legitimacy. Infighting among terrorist outfits, emergence of new splinter groups and the drive for recruitment and retention seemed to drive the bulk of the militant agenda. They appear to have reverted to primarily targeting security personnel. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) launched a female-centric publication, “Sunnat-i-Khaula”, following Daish’s footsteps in attempting to recruit educated females.
The significant decline in the number of fatalities from violence in KP and FATA during Q3 shows overall progress, but the numbers favor the militants. The transportation of explosives and confiscation of armaments from FATA and other parts of the country show continued militant tenacity. After a string of successful military operations in the FATA regions, the provinces of Balochistan and Sindh appear to have become the main hubs for militant activity, with a pronounced focus on security forces.
Terrorism, or the perception of it, now poses a serious threat to Pakistan’s foreign relations, not just with its traditional rival India but with allies such as the United States and other members of the NATO alliance.
Casualties from Violence in Pakistan
During the third quarter of this year, 499 persons lost their lives and 388 were wounded in violence and counter-violence incidents in the country. Balochistan, Punjab, and Sindh, suffered the majority of fatalities while FATA and KP were the least affected by violence (table 01).
A comparative data of fatalities from violence in Q2 vs. Q3 shows that Punjab and Sindh have had a significant rise in fatalities, while FATA witnessed a sharp drop in fatalities from 171 in Q2, to 48 in Q3. KP had a marginal drop in the number of fatalities.
Overall, the increase in violence-related fatalities is negligible and does not signify any noticeable increase in overall violence across the country.
The fatalities from counter-violence operations by the security agencies increased by two-folds in Q3 compared to Q2. The number of persons gunned increased by over 32%, nearly half of which were victims of robberies. In last three months, 54 persons died in robberies, which is nearly the number of the total number of robbery-related deaths from the entire year of 2016.
IEDs and landmines caused 39 fatalities in Q3, compared to 3 in Q2. However, suicide attacks and bomb explosions left 58 persons dead this quarter compared to 105 in previous quarter.
Nearly twice as many dead bodies were found this quarter when compared to last quarter. In attempts to defuse bombs two policemen and two civilians also lost their lives.
The loss of civilian life to violence dropped to 39% (193) from 52% (293) in last quarter. Security and government personnel also witnessed a marginal drop in the percentage of total fatalities (21% to 17%) but the overall number of their fatalities was higher than the previous quarter (58 in Q2, vs. 83 in Q3). During Q1 and Q2, 65 security persons succumbed to attacks. In Q3 this number is at 83.
At least 309 persons were wounded from these attacks which is 80% of the total number of injuries in this period (table 01 above). Militant and criminal injuries went up by 17% during this quarter.