“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Statistics always ring a bell and make seemingly obscure things fairly obvious.
As per the recent Global Terrorism Index (GTI) survey terrorism increased significantly in Pakistan for the third consecutive year in the last decade.
According to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) – a comprehensive study on the impact of terrorism in 163 countries – covering almost 99.7 per cent of the world’s population, Islamic State (IS), al-Shabaab, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) are the deadliest terrorist groups in the world.
Pakistan witnessed the second-largest number of deaths in 2022 which more than doubled – as compared to 2021. This was predominantly due to the growth of belligerent organisations the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) which was responsible for 233 deaths — an almost nine times increase since 2021.
The increase in deaths due to terrorist attacks in Pakistan is also due to the growth of bloodthirsty killer groups like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISK) which have become difficult to contain.
As per the recent Global Terrorism Index (GTI) survey terrorism increased significantly in Pakistan for the third consecutive year in the last decade. Though the number of terror-related incidents remained relatively steady — 206 incidents in 2021 and 298 in 2022, on average there was an increase in lethality to 2.2 people killed per attack.
Significantly the Pakistan military was the most common target and 55 per cent of all terror-related deaths were reportedly among military personnel.
Despite trying its best to disarm and eliminate terrorist sleeper cells, under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad Pakistan military has not been able to contain the terror outfits largely concentrated along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, which launched nearly 63 per cent of attacks from this area. This area accounted for 74 per cent of the total terrorism deaths in Pakistan in 2022.
Another significant development is that the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) overtook the Islamic resistance group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the deadliest terrorist group — accounting for 36 per cent of terror-related deaths in Pakistan.
There is a saying – what you sow, so shall you reap. This is something that Pakistan needs to learn.
In what turned out to be the deadliest attack gunmen bombed two separate Frontier Corps security posts in February 2022. BLA claimed responsibility for the attacks in which 195 soldiers were killed. It was the just the deadliest attack in Pakistan but also globally.
There is a saying – what you sow, so shall you reap. This is something that Pakistan needs to learn.
From President Ayub Khan’s Operation Gibraltar and Operation Grand Slam (both in1965), Gen Zia’s Op Topac, Gen Pervez Musharraf’s Operation Badr (1999) to infiltrate and capture strategic positions in the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir in 1999, and Operation Ababeel (ongoing) in Siachin Pakistan has never missed an opportunity to ferment trouble and make India bleed.
The three-pronged strategy in all these operations has been to defreeze the Kashmir problem, weaken Indian resolve, and bring her to the conference table without fighting a conventional war.
Pakistan has always tasted defeat in all these operations but still refuses to learn from its past mistakes.
Air Marshal Nur Khan, who used to be the Chief of the Pakistan Air Force, is reported to have said that one of the reasons for Pakistan’s defeats has been a lack of coordination among the armed forces. “The (Pakistan) army “misled the nation with a big lie” – that India rather than Pakistan provoked the war – and that Pakistan won a “great victory. And since the “lie” was never rectified, the Pakistani “army came to believe its own fiction, (and) has continued to fight unwanted wars”.
In almost all the wars after independence, the government and military propaganda machinery in Pakistan claimed that India was the aggressor and that Pakistan won a “great victory” in the war.
According to Air Marshal Nur Khan, in the 1965 war Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff, Gen Musa Khan was reportedly so confident that the plan would succeed and conflict would be localized to Kashmir that he did not inform the Air Force, as he believed the operation would not require any major air action.
Attacks by the BLA rose by 77 per cent, compared with the year prior.
In fact, not only in India but even in Pakistan many political leaders and senior officers have been unaware of the offensive move till things went out of control. For instance, in the Kargil War Gen, Pervez Musharraf is supposed to have rolled out Operation Badr (1999) without even informing Nawaz Sharif who was the Prime Minister. Similarly in February 1999, as an unprecedented gesture of goodwill when Prime Minister Vajpayee boarded a bus to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore and signed the Lahore Declaration to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries, increase people-to-people contacts and promote trade Musharraf plotted the Kargil War in May 1999 which resulted in heavy casualties on both sides and relations between the two countries became even more strained than before. As a result, the Bus diplomacy initiative failed to take off and there was never a lasting peace in the history of India-Pakistan relations because dialogue and diplomatic channels were never allowed to take off.
The year 2022 saw the resurrection of the deadliest and bloodthirsty terror groups in Pakistan like IS, ISK and the BLA. Attacks by the BLA rose by 77 per cent, compared with the year prior. ISK was behind 23 incidents and 78 deaths, almost triple the number of attacks and a sevenfold increase in deaths as compared to 2021. This was also the first time since 2015 that ISK affected more than 20 attacks in a single year.
The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISK) planned and executed 13 attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghanistan border, followed by eight in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and two in Balochistan. ISK’s deadliest attack in Pakistan occurred in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa when a suicide bomber killed at least 56 people in an attack on a Shia Mosque during Friday prayers.
The situation is even more complicated because 2,431 deaths or 36 per cent of deaths could not be attributed to any organization making it extremely difficult to point the needle of suspicion at a specific terrorist group…
According to reports, leaders of terrorist groups such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are confidently operating along the Pakistan – Afghanistan border which it feels is like a safe haven primarily because of its traditional warm and cordial relations with the Taliban which is now controlling Afghanistan.
This is something that Pakistan is unable to digest or do anything about.
As things stand today Islamic State (IS), Al-Shabaab, Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) — just four terrorist groups were responsible for 3,129 terrorism-related deaths almost 47 per cent of total terrorism deaths in the world in 2022.
The situation is even more complicated because 2,431 deaths or 36 per cent of deaths could not be attributed to any organization making it extremely difficult to point the needle of suspicion at a specific terrorist group because of late many small groups have started collaborating with other groups and working in partnership or partially under the same command. Hence it is getting increasingly difficult to fix the onus of responsibility because terror outfits have stopped bragging about their involvement.
“Studies have shown that attacks that cause large numbers of casualties, as well as attacks causing very few deaths, tend to remain anonymous. At one end of the spectrum, terrorist groups have little incentive to claim minor acts of violence that could be seen as failures. At the other end, terror groups that inflict the most carnage can fear a backlash from both the government and the local population, hampering their recruitment efforts and causing increased counter-insurgency efforts against them,” a GTI report read.
“Suicide bombings tend to be the most lethal form of attack, with the average attack killing six people in 2022. In 2022 there was a slight rise in the number of suicide bombings, with 60 incidents resulting in 358 deaths, compared to 51 suicide bombings that caused 409 fatalities in the previous year,” the report added.
The year 2009 has been the bloodiest for Pakistan when it became an ally of the United States in the war on terror and the Pakistan Army launched two major operations against militants in Swat and Waziristan.
There is a saying – if you play with fire, there are chances that you may be the first to get burnt. This is exactly what happened to Pakistan which started feeling the heat of its own creation. Pakistan has been accused of providing support to terrorist organizations, particularly those operating in Afghanistan and India. The United States, India, and several other countries have accused Pakistan of harbouring and supporting terrorist groups such as the Taliban, Haqqani network, and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Pakistan which never saw a single suicide attack till 2001, overnight witnessed 200 suicide attacks (87 in 2009 alone) and 500 bomb explosions/IED detonations in the NWFP and FATA regions.
There have been a number of incidents where terrorists have been found to have links with Pakistan-based groups. Though the Pakistan government has denied these allegations and has claimed that it is also a victim of terrorism the fact remains that Pakistan Army and ISI have nurtured, cultivated, trained, financed and supported terrorist groups like the Taliban and Haqqani network which have been known to have bases in Pakistan’s tribal areas. There have also been allegations that Pakistan’s intelligence agency has provided support in the recruitment and infiltration of militants to take part in anti-India activities.
The Pakistani government and intelligence agencies are known to have supported some militant groups in the past, particularly those operating in India and Afghanistan. This is now proving to be its biggest mistake as Pakistan is now on the receiving end of the terrorist organizations it created but cannot restrain.
In recent years, Pakistan has taken some steps to crack down on terrorism, such as launching military operations against militants in tribal areas and implementing stricter laws against financing terrorism. While experts argue that Pakistan needs to do more to dismantle terrorist networks operating on its soil, it is not a mere coincidence that there has been a rise in increasingly daring suicide attacks, using bombs, explosives and improvised explosive devices (IED).
The result is fairly obvious. Pakistan which never saw a single suicide attack till 2001, overnight witnessed 200 suicide attacks (87 in 2009 alone) and 500 bomb explosions/IED detonations in the Northwestern Frontier Province (NWFP) and FATA regions. The casualty figure touched an overwhelming 25,000 including military and police personnel.