Chang­ing pat­tern of sui­cide at­tacks

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - Fazal Haq Email: reema.asim81@gmail.com

THE 9/11 in­ci­dent is the most sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor for chang­ing the world se­cu­rity and par­tic­u­larly that of Pak­istan and the neigh­bour­ing coun­try Afghanistan, which are known as the hub for Al-Qaeda and all other af­fil­i­ated vi­o­lent groups. Mil­i­tants uses dif­fer­ent tac­tics and strate­gies to cre­ate de­ter­rence and achieve their goals through vi­o­lent means. Strate­gies like hit and run, gre­nade at­tack, kid­nap­ping, uses of ex­plo­sive de­vices and the most im­por­tant and suc­cess­ful weapon for ter­ror­ist is ‘ Sui­cide at­tack’ which killed thou­sands of peo­ple so far since 9/11. The last decade of Pak­istani his­tory has wit­nessed some of the worst blood­shed due to the rise of sui­cide bomb­ing all around the coun­try and even more than Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dur­ing 2001-6, ac­cord­ing to Pak­istan In­sti­tute for Con­flict and Se­cu­rity Stud­ies (PICSS) 22 in­ci­dents of sui­cide at­tacks took place in which 376 peo­ple were killed in­clud­ing 65 se­cu­rity forces per­son­nel. In12 sui­cide at­tacks out of 22 the tar­get was Shia com­mu­nity which is more than 50% of the to­tal at­tacks. The ten­sion be­tween the Shia and Sunni com­mu­ni­ties are com­ing from decades but the strate­gic aim of these at­tacks on the par­tic­u­lar sect to cre­ate dis­tur­bance to un­der­mine the Pak­istani govern­ment.

A dramatic in­crease in sui­cide at­tacks oc­curred in 2007 af­ter the op­er­a­tion Si­lence in Lal Masjid, Islamabad. Ac­cord­ing to PICSS data­base, 60 sui­cide at­tacks was recorded in 2007 in which 750 peo­ple were killed in­clud­ing 280 se­cu­rity forces per­son­nel and more than 1400 were wounded. The in­crease in num­ber was very much high in one year as com­pare to last five years at­tacks which was 22 on the av­er­age of 4 sui­cide at­tacks an­nu­ally.The num­ber of sui­cide hits re­main the same in 2008 which was 60 in 2007, killing 904 peo­ple dur­ing that year.

But the year 2009 proved to be the blood­i­est one for the peo­ple of Pak­istan since Islamabad had joined hands with Wash­ing­ton in the war on ter­ror and mil­i­tary started op­er­a­tion against ter­ror­ists in Swat and FATA. Dur­ing that year, 82 in­ci­dents of sui­cide at­tacks took place in which 1005 in­no­cent peo­ple lost their lives in­clud­ing 230 se­cu­rity forces per­son­nel. On the av­er­age of 7 at­tacks per month took place in 2009 in which 84 peo­ple lost their lives on av­er­age of per month which is much higher from the pre­vi­ous years. In 2011 a ma­jor de­cline was oc­curred in sui­cide at­tacks which we can con­sider as a fi­nal phase for such in­ci­dents.40 in­ci­dents of sui­cide at­tacks took place in that year in which 625 peo­ple were killed in­clud­ing 246 se­cu­rity forces per­son­nel and 1155 wounded in­clud­ing 288 se­cu­rity men.

The num­ber of civil­ian causal­i­ties were de­crease by more than 50% than that of 2010.In 2012 the in­ci­dents de­crease from 40 to 35 in which 176 civil­ians and 40 se­cu­rity men were killed and in­jured 428 and 98 re­spec­tively. In 2015 the in­ci­dents of sui­cide at­tacks de­creased to 20, which is the low­est fig­ure since 2007. The de­cline was no­ticed in such in­ci­dent due to high phys­i­cal loses of ter­ror­ist and dam­age their ca­pa­bil­i­ties in op­er­a­tion Zarb-e-Azab.

In the cur­rent year, in four months 6 in­ci­dents of such at­tacks took place in which 22 se­cu­rity men and 135 civil­ians lost their lives and in­jured 45 se­cu­rity forces per­son­nel and 469 civil­ians. The re­cent deadly in­ci­dent of sui­cide at­tack in Gul­shan-e-Iqbal Park, Lahore on 27 March, 2016 in which dozens of civil­ians lost their lives and hun­dreds of civil­ians wounded com­pel the govern­ment and se­cu­rity agen­cies to start op­er­a­tion in Pun­jab, where mil­i­tants have strong hold. The shift in pol­icy of Pak­istan is no­ticed in the cur­rent year as the num­ber of ter­ror­ist in­ci­dents in­creased. Over all 455 sui­cide at­tacks hap­pened through­out the coun­try in which 219 in­ci­dents took place only in KPK which is 48% of the en­tire coun­try. Balochis­tan wit­nessed 9 %, Pun­jab 11.33%, Sindh 5% and FATA the 2nd largest fig­ure af­ter KPK 17.5 %. Through­out 6342 peo­ple killed in­clud­ing 1373 se­cu­rity per­son­nel and wounded 14029 in sui­cide at­tacks since 2001.

This is one of the grave is­sue for Pak­istan to tackle and con­trol such type of in­ci­dents in the fu­ture be­cause Pak­istan faced huge de­struc­tion both phys­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally. Pak­istan should adopt such poli­cies on the ground level to know the fac­tors and causes be­hind the mo­ti­va­tion of sui­cide bomber and what com­pel the bomber to do such vi­o­lent act. Pak­istan should pro­vide train­ing to se­cu­rity forces and make some strate­gies to stop the sui­cide bomber or to bring him to min­i­mum dam­age and ca­su­al­ties. Se­cu­rity forces can make sure the suc­cess of op­er­a­tion to root out the evil of ter­ror­ism from the coun­try to save the coun­try from fu­ture de­struc­tion.

— The writer works for Pak­istan In­sti­tute for Con­flict and Se­cu­rity Stud­ies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.

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