There has been a 45% increase in incidents of political violence in the last quarter compared to October-December 2011, says a report by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).
The report revealed that a total of 517 incidents were recorded. The violence affected 2,043 people, claimed 975 lives, left 927 injured and another 141 kidnapped during January-March 2012.
Amongst provinces, the heaviest brunt was borne by Balochistan, from where 157 incidents of political violence were recorded. Meanwhile, 136 such incidences were recorded from Sindh, 120 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), 75 from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), 28 from Punjab, and one from Islamabad Capital Territory.
Registering an increase of 127% from the last quarter of 2011, Karachi remained the most violent district from where 125 incidents were reported.
Target killing remained the most common form of violence with 160 incidents being recorded. There was an increase in incidents of terrorism aimed at the general public, which numbered 98 as compared to 72 recorded in the previous quarter. The attacks on state security forces almost doubled to 92.
The report also revealed that the number of victims of collateral damage had doubled during the reporting period.
During the observed quarter, 44 people affiliated with political parties were killed, injured or kidnapped. The number of victims in the previous quarter was 52.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was vulnerable in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) in K-P and Balochistan, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Sindh, and Awami National Party (ANP) in K-P, Balochistan and Sindh.
Reaction from parties
Referring to the report’s content, ANP’s Senator Zahid Khan said that despite measures taken to prevent such incidents, the recurrence is deplorable.
PML-N’s Mushahidullah Khan said that the report depicted an alarming situation in Pakistan, and called upon political parties to curb violence before it gets too late.
Kamil Ali Agha of Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) said that bloodshed has become a norm in Asian democracies to pressurise opponent parties, but it’s getting worse in Pakistan and India.
Fata MNA Akhundzada Chitan said though there is not much political violence in Fata, authorities should pay heed to the worrisome situation in Balochistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.