KP-FATA continue to bleed
By Imtiaz Gul
Weekly Pulse, August 05, 2013
The daring jail break in Dera Ismail Khan on July 29 came as a yet another rude shock, as much as the April 2012 attack on the Bannu jail left many wondering as to whether the entire security apparatus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA is at all upto the mark. Both incidents offer a bitter reminder on the wanting level of preparedness and preparedness.
The jail break represents a telling tale of failures and insensitivity towards critical security issues. That extremely motivated terrorists could orchestrate attacks to get most wanted terrorists from the D.I.Khan and Bannu jails amounts to criminal neglect and cannot be regarded as a security lapse.
No wonder that inefficiency continues to pile misery on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA regions; data that the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) compiles and a detailed report by the Daily AAj, Peshawar suggest that the year 2013 is turning out to be as bloody as 2012 and region continues to seethe under terrorism and violence.
The death toll off terrorist attacks of various nature in the first six months of the current year in KP/FATA alone crossed 800 by end of June as a result of 313 attacks, including 21 were suicide bomb blasts. More than 1500 people were injured. As many as nine suicide attacks and 80 bomb blasts rocked the extended region of Peshawar, leaving some 118 people dead and over 400 injured.
During the said period, more than 40 schools and a degree college became the targets of militants in different parts of KP and FATA, underscoring the fact that terrorists continue to target symbols of a functional school system, which they apparently perceive as a threat to their medieval thinking. In the first six months of the year, militants lobbed as many as 32 on various targets, most of them in and around Peshawar, including the Peshawar airport building. Peshawar police claims to have diffused about 40 bombs before they could go off and cause more damage. Many members of bomb disposal unit have lost their lives while making bombs disabled.
More terrorist attacks, the data suggests, occurred in the run-up to the May 11 elections. The main objective of the terrorist was to discourage the candidates and voters from participating in the democratic process. Most of the over 150 deaths that occurred off terrorist activities between April-June, for instance, also related to elections and their results (murder of two PTI candidates).
Target-killing is another deadly trend that one witnesses in KPK-FATA. In KPK, target killings caused seven civilian and six security personnel deaths. Among the civilians were one PTI worker, two health workers, one driver of DrShakirHussain of Lady Reading Hospital, and bullet riddled bodies of two persons who were missing for some time. In a target attack, DSP Traffic Amanullah and his gunman was killed in Saeedabad, Peshawar. Two days later, the in-charge of Hyatabad Police Station was shot dead at Peshawar’s Karkhano market when he was escorting a convoy of trucks carrying supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan. A PTI worker, AltafHussain, was killed by gunmen in an attack on his house in Nowshera. In a separate attack, Hussain’s colleague remained unhurt. The target killings in KPK seem to stem from certain outlawed militant organizations’ opposition to polio vaccination drive as well as rejection of the democratic system in the country.
Frequent attacks on worship places, political leaders, suicide bombings at busy places and destruction of schools underscore the militants’ capacity to inflict damage on the state and its institutions and civil servants. They don’t spare private schools or similar institutions either.
For them the motivation is there, while the state and its institutions appear to be in a limbo, reeling under the burden of an over-grown but lethargic and unimaginative bureaucracy. Beside the crippling economic crisis, formidable security challenges continue to stare the federal government in the face. Without an urgently required legislative framework and an iron will to enforce it, the militant will continue to have the last laugh.
Imtiaz Gul is the executive director of the independent Centre for Research and Security Studies, and the author of the recently released book Pakistan: Before and After, published by Roli Books, India