ISLAMABAD: Top spy agencies told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that Pakistan has lost 49,000 lives since the apocalyptic attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States on September 11, 2001. Interestingly, government agencies had put the fatality figure at 40,000 in earlier reports.
More than 24,000 people â€“ both civilians and troops â€“ were killed in terrorist attacks during the period between 2001 and 2008. The last five years have proved costlier, in human terms. Another 25,000-plus people died during military offensives against Taliban insurgents in the restive tribal regions since 2008, the attorney for the intelligence agencies told the court in a report.
The apex court was hearing a petition challenging the constitutional status of the Action in Aid of Civil Powers Regulations (AACPR) 2011 which relates to deployment of armed forces to help the civil administration restore law and order.
The petition was filed by former Jamaat-i-Islami senator Professor Ibrahim through his counsel Ghulam Nabi. The petitioner has accused the army of violating human rights in the provincially administered tribal areas (PATA).
According to the report, the armed forces have suffered 15,681 casualties while fighting Taliban militants in the tribal areas since 2008 â€“ with 2009 being the deadliest year for them.
The court was informed that the armed forces were called in aid of the civil administration as the law enforcers, including the police, were unable to tackle the challenge in most of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
As many as 5,152 civilians have been killed and 5,678 injured in bomb blasts and suicide attacks since 2008, says the report. Similarly, 3,051 insurgents were killed and 1,228 wounded in security operations during the same period.
According to the report, there have been 235 suicide hits, 9,257 rocket attacks and 4,256 bomb explosions in the last five years. More than 200 members of tribal peace committees, or Lashkars, including volunteers and chieftains, were also killed and 275 wounded in targeted attacks in the last three years.
The report also revealed that 1,030 schools and colleges were destroyed by Taliban insurgents in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa from 2009 to 2013.
The spy agencies also claimed that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the outlawed conglomerate of militant groups blamed for most violence in the country, has weakened due to infighting and fragmentation. Some of its splinter groups have morphed into sectarian extremist groups â€“ which are mounting attacks on the Shia community in Quetta and Karachi.
Now, the TTP is not as effective as it was before 2008 when it challenged the writ of the state, the report said adding that peopleâ€™s support for militants is waning.
According to the report, the Afghan government was colluding with the Swat chapter of TTP. And this collusion could lead to a surge in cross-border attacks by Taliban militants in the bordering districts of Chitral, Dir, Swat and tribal regions of Bajaur and Momand. This is the first time Pakistani security forces openly blamed the Afghan government for colluding with the TTP.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2013.