ISLAMABAD - In 2019, anti-state militant attacks in Pakistan dropped to the lowest level during the last 15 years while 44 percent decline in suicide attacks was observed as compared with the year 2018, claims a non-government think tank on national security.

According to Annual Security Assessment Report for 2019 — released by Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) — the militant attacks in the country have dropped below the level of 2004, the year when militant attacks had picked up momentum in retaliation to the deployment of regular troops of Pakistan Army in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The militants carried out 159 attacks during the year 2019 in which 305 people were killed including 143 security forces personnel and 129 civilians, says the report. In 111 reported security forces actions, 77 militants, seven security forces personnel and four civilians were killed during the year.

Overall, 393 people lost their lives including 150 security forces personnel, 133 civilians and 110 militants in 270 violent incidents (including security forces actions and militant attacks) while 687 people were injured including 506 civilians and 178 security forces personnel. This is the second consecutive year where the human losses of the security forces exceeded the losses of the militants. Previously, this pattern was observed only in 2002 and 2003, while 2004 had seen an almost equal share of the losses, the report claims.

The annual repor quoting the PICSS Militancy Database, says that the average of militant attacks per month has further declined in 2019 to 13 attacks per month, which was 19 in 2018, 35 in 2017, 43 in 2016, 59 in 2015 and 134 in 2014. “The sharp decline in the militant attacks had started after OperationZarb-e-Azb in 2014 and National Action Plan at the start of 2015. Operation RaddulFasad has further pushed the militancy to the lowest level since 2003.”

The year 2019 saw a 31 percent decline in militant attacks, a 48 percent decline in resultant deaths and a 31 percent decline in the number of injured in these attacks. April was the deadliest month in which 50 people died in militant attacks while January 2019 witnessed the highest number of militant attacks.

According to the report, suicide attacks have also dropped below the level of 2007 when such attacks had got momentum after the Red Mosque Operation in 2007. The year 2019 witnessed 10 suicide attacks in which 70 people were killed including 34 civilians, 19 security forces personnel and 17 militants while 141 people were injured including 125 civilians and 16 security forces personnel.

Although Balochistan witnessed the highest number of militant attacks in 2019 but a remarkable reduction in anti-state violence has been observed in the province during the year under review, the think tank claims. In 2018, PICSS had recorded 99 militant attacks in the province which has dropped to 66 in 2019 which shows a 34 percent decline. 171 people died, 427 injured in Balochistan in anti-state militant attacks. Among the dead 89 were civilians, 58 security forces personnel and 24 militants. Among the injured 354 were civilians, 71 security forces personnel and two militants.

Formerly FATA saw 21 percent decline in militant attacks however a surge in violence in North Waziristan was the most troublesome issue Pakistani security forces faced during the year. In the erstwhile FATA region, militants carried out 52 attacks during the year in which 64 people were killed including 45 security forces personnel which is 70 percent of the total deaths caused by the militant attacks there. 88 people were injured including 57 security forces personnel and 33 civilians.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (excluding former FATA region) witnessed a 25 percent decline in the militant attacks during the year 2019 as 30 anti-state violent incidents were recorded by PICSS in the province in which 46 people were killed and 101 injured. 26 out of 46 dead were security forces personnel while 16 were civilians. 79 out of 101 injured were civilians and 21 were security forces personnel.

No change was observed in anti-state violence in Punjab where five militant attacks were recorded during 2019 in which 13 people were killed and 42 were injured. The year 2018 had also witnessed five attacks and the same number of people were injured (42). However a slight decrease in the number of deaths was observed (13 in 2019 compared with 17 in 2018).

A remarkable reduction in militant attacks was observed in the province of Sindh where militant attacks were dropped to four compared with 15 in 2018. Human losses in the province were also lowest in any month for the last five years.

One militant attack each was recorded in Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Islamabad Capital Territory in which five and two security forces personnel were killed respectively.

The report concluded that it seems that militants are improving in the use of IEDs (improvised explosive device) as human losses caused by IEDs have slightly increased during the year 2019 compared with 2018 in Pakistan. PICSS recorded 85 IED attacks in which 124 people were killed and 462 injured. The fatal impact of IEDs can be gauged from the fact that 40 percent of the deaths and 70 percent of the injured were a result of IEDs, the report added.