TTP, BLA, BLF & IS-K major actors of violence in 2021

ISLAMABAD – The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-K) and two Baloch insurgent groups including Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) remained major actors of violence in the country during 2021.         

These four militant groups perpetrated about 82 percent of the total 207 reported terrorist attacks in the country during last year, says Pakistan Security Report 2021 issued by Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) here on Tuesday.  

All such attacks claimed 335 lives – an increase of 52 percent from those killed in such attacks in 2020 – and injured 555 people.   

It is first time since the year 2013 that the number of terrorist attacks has posted an upsurge or reversal in a gradually declining trend. The developments in Afghanistan had already started influencing Pakistan’s militant landscape and security in 2021 as the year witnessed a 42 percent increase in terrorist attacks from the year before, according to the report.  

Among the 335 killed in terrorist attacks were 177 security forces personnel, 126 civilians and 32 militants. Similarly, in as many as 66 percent of total attacks personnel, vehicles, and posts of security forces were targeted across Pakistan.  

PIPS 2021 Report says Afghan Taliban’s inaction against TTP, response to border fencing adding to Pakistan’s security 
concerns, challenges

According to PIPS report, the outlawed TTP was believed to be involved in 87 terrorist attacks, 78 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, five in Balochistan and four in Punjab and Islamabad. This is an increase of about 84 percent from the attacks it perpetrated across Pakistan in the year before. These attacks by the TTP claimed 158 lives.    

Different Baloch insurgent groups also carried out 74 terrorist attacks in Pakistan (71 in Balochistan and three in Karachi) that claimed 96 lives and injured 151 others. As many as 63, or over 85 percent, of these attacks were carried out by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF).  

The IS-K affiliates perpetrated a total of eight terrorist attacks including seven in KP and one in Balochistan. In all, 21 people lost their lives and another four were injured in these attacks. 

The security report also noted that despite their repeated promises to not allow anyone to use the Afghan soil against Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban have yet not seriously considered to act against or influence the TTP in support of Pakistani concerns, except having facilitated the talks between Pakistani government and the banned group. But these talks have also not shown any success so far. Meanwhile the Taliban officials’ response to border fencing is only adding to Pakistan’s security concerns and challenges.  

In 2021, multiple events and developments indicated that a persisting challenge of religious extremism and intolerance confronted the country.  

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) witnessed the highest number of terrorist attacks than any region of Pakistan, where a total of 111 attacks claimed 169 lives and inflicted injuries to 122 people.  

Balochistan was the second most affected region by terrorism where 136 people were killed and 345 others were injured in 81 terrorist attacks perpetrated by Baloch insurgents as well as religiously inspired militant groups.  

In all, eight terrorist attacks took place in Sindh including five in Karachi and three in interior Sindh that killed a total of 13 people and injured 35 others.   

A combined total of seven terrorist attacks were recorded in Punjab and Islamabad in which 17 people lost their lives.  

As many as seven incidents of communal or faith-based mob violence were recorded during 2021; five in Punjab and one each in KP and Islamabad. In four of these incidents, enraged mobs hit or intended to hit blasphemy-accused individuals. In another two such incidents, two Hindu temples were vandalised, while in one incident a member of Ahmedi community was shot dead.  

Security forces and law enforcement agencies intensified anti-militant kinetic actions in the year 2021. On whole, they killed as many as 186 militants in military/security operations as well as armed clashes and encounters with the militants. Most of these actions concentrated in KP and Balochistan.  

Security and law enforcement agencies also arrested 156 suspected terrorists and members of militant groups in as many as 70 search and combing operations conducted in 2021 all over the country.  

The report recommends that the Parliament must take the lead in fight against extremism by debating the issue and making relevant laws. There is a need to civilianise National Action Plan (NAP) and counterterrorism regime giving leading role to the Parliament.   

It recommends that the Prime Minister may take ownership of NAP against counter-terrorism and counter-extremism and use the authority’s platform to regularly review the status of and progress on NAP provisions.   

The government needs to reform the criminal justice system with much greater urgency and focus as this particular NAP clause has remained a non-starter so far.   

The federal and provincial governments need to develop and run de-radicalisation and rehabilitation programmes, led by civilians that should also engage or partner with civil society organizations, says another recommendation of the security report.

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