While Pakistan witnessed another year of reduced violence and casualties, militancy in Balochistan rose due to terror groups targeting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a think tank has claimed.
“Pakistan saw a 30% decline in militant attacks whereas the number of resultant deaths also decreased by 28%,” a report published by the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) read.
According to the think tank, Balochistan remained the most “troublesome province” from where most militant attacks and casualties were reported.
“It is surprising that the insurgent attacks have significantly reduced in the province but attacks carried out by the ideological-based militant outfits such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Almi and other militant factions have increased,” Abdullah Khan, the think tank’s managing director, told The Express Tribune on Friday.
“I think militants from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have shifted focus to Balochistan to exclusively target the CPEC after being repelled by the security forces from Fata and other northern areas after Zarb-e-Azb,” Khan added.
The PICSS’ ‘militancy database’ revealed that the level of anti-state violence had dropped below that seen in 2007, the year the country experienced a sudden surge in militancy after the Lal Masjid operation.
Over 950 people were killed and another 1,815 injured in approximately 500 militant attacks during 2016, far lower than the previous year when Pakistan witnessed an unprecedented decline in militant attacks due to Zarb-e-Azb, the report said. “Except Balochistan, all administrative units saw a reduction in deaths and injuries in militant attacks,” the document read.
The organisation said security forces killed at least 859 militants while over 4,000 suspects, including handlers, supporters and financiers of terrorists were arrested over 1,104 intelligence-based operations carried out nationwide.