Security situation improved drastically in 2018, report reveals


–PICSS Annual Report 2018 reveals militant attacks decreased by 45 per cent in 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) in its Annual Report 2018 claimed that the outgoing year saw a remarkable reduction of 45 per cent in the militant attacks in Pakistan.

The study was conducted by an Islamabad-based independent think tank PICSS which revealed on Monday that the security situation had significantly improved during 2018 as number of attacks, resultant deaths as well as number of injured declined by 45 per cent, 37 per cent and 49 per cent respectively compared with the year 2017 whereas subsequently the number of suicide attacks had also decreased.

The report in its comparative analysis of the terrorist activities across the country elucidated that during last one year, the militants carried out 229 attacks in different provinces in which 577 people were killed, including 356 civilians, 152 security forces personnel and 67 militants, while 959 people got injured, including 693 civilians  and 261 security forces personnel.

The PICSS study showed a consistent decline in militant attacks since Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in June 2014. It further showed that the average militant attacks per month had further declined from 35 to 19 in 2018. It is pertinent to mention here that average militant attacks per month in 2014 were 134 which had dropped to 59 in 2015, 42 attacks per month in 2016, and 35 attacks per month in 2017.

Balochistan, the report said, remained the most troubled province of the country where highest number of militant attacks (99), highest number of deaths (354) and highest number of injured (570) were recorded.

“The security situation in the province can be further gauged from the fact that 43 per cent of the total attacks in the country, 61 per cent of the total deaths and 59 per cent of the total injuries occurred in Balochistan,” the report said. It is to be mentioned that the second highest number of attacks was recorded in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) where militants carried out 65 attacks in which 107 people were killed and 150 injured. “In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 40 attacks were recorded during 2018 in which 72 people were killed and 174 injured,” the PICSS report said. However, 14 attacks were recorded by PICSS in Sindh in which 21 people were killed and 20 injured.

In Punjab, militants struck six times, claiming 18 lives and leaving 42 injured. Unlikely the propensity of terrorist incidents, more footprints of the militants were observed in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) than previous years as four militant attacks were recorded during the year in which five people were killed and three injured. At least 12 schools, mostly of girls, were destroyed in a single night in Diamer district of GB.

The PICSS Annual Report 2018 identified another significant improvement as the number of suicide attacks and resultant casualties also declined in 2018. A rise had been observed in suicide attacks in 2017 with 23 reported attacks. However, the number declined to 18 in 2018 claiming 267 lives and leaving 460 injured. “The deadliest suicide attack had targeted Nawab Siraj Raeesani, a popular Baloch politician, during his election rally in July 2018. Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haroon Bilor also lost his life in a suicide attack.  July was the deadliest month of the year in which 228 people were killed and 423 injured.            40 per cent of the total deaths took place in July which was the month of the general election in the country. “The election campaign in 2013 was also targeted by the militants who consider democracy a non-Islamic system and often hit political leaders,” the report underscored.

The report said, “Security operations also declined during 2018 due to the improved security situation.” Pakistani forces conducted 176 operations, killing 97 suspected militants while 360 others were arrested. The major focus of the security forces was witnessed in Sindh and Balochistan followed by Punjab. In Sindh, security forces conducted 50 operations in which 13 suspected militants were killed and 102 arrested. 47 suspected militants were killed in 41 operations in Balochistan while 123 suspects were arrested.

Punjab saw unusually a greater number of security operations than KP as 38 operations were recorded among which 11 suspected militants were killed and 99 arrested. In KP, 27 operations of the forces were recorded in which eight suspected militants were killed and 20 arrested. In former FATA, 25 suspected militants were killed and three arrested in 17 operations while ten suspects were arrested from GB for in two operations of the security forces.

Three suspects were nabbed from the federal capital in one operation of the security forces in 2018, the report added.