Pakistan witnessed an average of 600 monthly casualties as a result of political violence from January to April this year, a research study has found.
The data suggests that some 2,674 people lost their lives in 1,108 incidents of violence across the country. Violent clashes also left 2,386 people injured in the four months under review.
According to Pakistan Conflict Tracker’s quadrilateral report compiled by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), the first four months of the year witnessed an unprecedented surge in political violence.
Accompanied by an unusual escalation in attacks on political parties’ offices and their candidates in the month of April, the ethno-political violence in Karachi, religio-political terrorism in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and nationalist-separatist violence in Balochistan continued to surge.
The data indicates that Sindh witnessed major loss of life during the last four months. After Sindh, KP turned out to be the second major hub of violence with the death toll of 418. Balochistan came in a close third with almost 403 people dead during the four months. Meanwhile, violence across Fata subsided significantly during the period in question.
A closer look into the casualty figures underlines that civilians bore the greatest brunt of violent acts with 1,542 fatalities.
Moreover, militants fighting against the state constitute the second largest group of casualties, with the toll pegged at 856, according to the data.
Clashes with militants, target-killings or ambushes of military convoys also left 276 security forces personnel dead, mostly recorded in the insurgency-infested areas of Fata, Karachi and Balochistan.
Furthermore, during the four-month review, as many as 12 Central Intelligence Agency-operated drone strikes were reported in different areas of North Waziristan Agency, leaving about 71 suspected militants dead. Between March 2012 and February 2013, 51 drone attacks had killed over 351 suspected militants. Meanwhile, continuing their sabotage campaign against state infrastructure, militants blew up 39 state-run and private schools in different parts of Fata, Balochistan and KP during the course of four months.
Major causes of violence
On the whole, target shooting topped as the major cause of deaths. Some 45 percent of all the violent incidents were of target killing in nature. Karachi suffered the greatest loss of life as a result of target killing. The deadly wave claimed over 701 lives in Sindh.
Meanwhile, bomb blasts were the second major cause of deaths with 405 persons perishing, including 343 civilians, 7 militants and 55 security forces personnel across the country.
The third major cause of fatalities were military operations. In total, 356 persons including 339 militants and 11 security operatives perished in these forms of attacks. Meanwhile, from January to April 2013, 241 dead bodies were recovered from different parts of Pakistan. Most of them were found in Karachi, Peshawar, Fata and Balochistan. Likewise, 25 suicide attacks left 168 civilians dead.
Moreover, the sporadic waves of sectarian and religio-political violence continued to pile misery on the country, with Shia Muslims based in Quetta and Karachi becoming frequent targets of sectarian terrorism. Shias belonging to the Hazara community in Quetta continue to live under the deadly spate of violence unleashed by Lashkar-e-Jhangivi this year.
A precise look into the trends of violence across the country highlights the fact that the law and order situation across Pakistan continues to deteriorate.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2013.