Two hundred and sixteen incidents of political violence were reported across Pakistan during the second quarter of 2011, affecting 1,740 people of whom 595 were killed, 1,094 injured and 51 kidnapped, according to statistics compiled by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), a think-tank and advocacy group.
Fafen released on Tuesday its quarterly report based on media monitoring of political and electoral violence in the country. The report stated that on average, seven people were killed, 12 injured and one reportedly kidnapped every day during March to May 2011. In this quarter, 222 people died in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 160 in Sindh, 92 in Balochistan, 80 in Punjab, 40 in Fata and one in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
Of the total 1,740 victims across the country, 52 victims were directly affiliated with political parties. According to Fafen, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was the most targeted political party with 18 victims followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party with 10 victims, MQM- Haqiqi with eight victims, Awami National Party with six victims, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl with four victims, Sunni Tehreek with two victims, and Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, Balochistan National Party, Jamaat-i-Islami and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz each with one victim.
Sindh experienced the highest number of incidents of political violence, due to increased target killings in Karachi. During this reporting period, around 50% of all incidents of political violence were recorded in Sindh. Similar to findings in the previous quarter, Balochistan remained the second most violent region in terms of number of incidents (66 incidents), followed by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (28 incidents), Fata (seven incidents), Punjab (four incidents) and Gilgit-Baltistan and ICT (one incident each).
Although the number of politically violent incidents was low in Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, the lethality rate was higher than that reported in Sindh and Balochistan. Target killing was the most frequently reported category of violence during the previous quarter and remained so with 56 recorded cases during March to May 2011. Attacks on political party candidates/workers and attacks on state security forces followed with 53 and 23 cases respectively. Apart from targeted victims, 270 people became victims in collateral damage in attacks on state security forces and 24 in attacks on political party candidates/workers. However, no victim of collateral damage was reported in the incidents of target killings.
During the reporting period, 186 of the total 216 incidents of political violence involved human victims, 20 involved damage to property, whereas in eight incidents, both life and property were harmed. As many as 28 (13%) of the total incidents of violence were perpetrated by militants during this period. One incident was carried out by tribal/village leader while the perpetrators of the remaining 186 incidents (86%) could not be identified.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2011.