More than 9,000 civilians have been killed in terrorist violence in Pakistan since 2003, after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan propelled the front-line ally in the war on terror in the line of fire, and cost the Pakistani economy over $24 billion in damages.
Over twenty thousand terrorists were killed in the preceding decade while close to a thousand security personnel lost their lives in the war against terror in 2009 alone. The number of casualties crossed 3,350 in nine years since 2003.
These figures were quoted in a report titled, “Reviewing the decade-long counter-terrorism struggle” by Individualland, a non-profit organisation. Terrorist attacks were launched on Pakistani soil after November 2001, stated the report. Violence surged in Pakistan exactly two years after the US attacked Afghanistan in October 2001.
Fatalities witnessed an upsurge particularly after the Lal Masjid Operation in 2007 with over 2,000 civilian deaths each in the following two years. The majority of suicide bombers came from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). The report cited the figures, compiled from newspapers by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, were provisional.
“Pakistan had not experienced a single suicide attack until 2001 but by the end of 2009, the country endured over 200 suicide attacks including 87 in 2009 alone,” claimed the report. The year 2009 closed with a deadly attack on a Muharram procession in Karachi.
The figures exclude close to 500 bomb explosions and Improvised Explosives Device detonations, mainly in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata. According to the report, Pakistan suffered an estimated loss of over $24 billion in terrorist violence on account of destruction of public property and the deaths or severe injury of security personnel since 2003.
The report quoting Naveed Ahmed Shinwari from Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) stated that about a hundred thousand Pakistani troops entered Fata in March 2004 to search for al Qaeda operatives.
“Though the military has carried out as many as 15 operations against Taliban in the area, 60 per cent of which is under military control, the war against terrorism is still far from over,” maintained Shinwari in his analysis.
He goes on to claim that the army dominates South Waziristan but Taliban are active in North Waziristan. Attacks on security check posts and suicide bombings persist.
The porous mountainous region of less than 16,000 square miles turned into a sanctuary for al Qaeda and its affiliates, the report said, primarily due to the fact that al Qaeda had found local and foreign allies and facilitators there to launch attacks on Nato and US forces.
“Pakistani militant groups banned by General Musharraf entered Fata to join forces and form a new and more lethal Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).” The United States had been cautioned of this threat in 2001, read the report.
On September 23, 2001, Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmed, former director general Inter Services Intelligence had said to Wendy Chamberlain, ambassador to Pakistan, “We will not flinch from a military victory … but a strike will produce thousands of frustrated young Muslim men. It will be an incubator of anger that will explode two or three years from now,” according to a 12-page document.
Reviewing some of the suffering endured by locals, the report estimated that some 25 per cent were forced to migrate to allow the military to conduct its operations in tribal areas. The development work has stalled and the reform agenda is suspended. Close to 29,000 houses have been destroyed in Malakand Agency.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2011.
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