After a consistent decline in militant attacks for the past six years, Pakistan witnessed a 56 per cent increase in the number of terror attacks this year, despite a one-month ceasefire with TTP. In 2021, militants carried out 294 attacks, killing 388 people and wounding another 606, according to a report compiled by Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS).
The report details the rising frequency, lethality and geographic scope of terror attacks across Pakistan this year. The lethality of terror attacks rose by 46 per cent this year, with 388 total deaths of which 184 were civilians. The remaining 192 of those killed were security forces personnel, a 66 per cent increase in the casualties of Pakistani security forces from the year before. Over 600 people were injured in the terror attacks of 2021, including 389 civilians and 217 security forces personnel.
Pakistani security forces reported killing 188 militants and arresting at least 220 suspected militants throughout the year.
The rise in militant attacks in Pakistan coincided with the Afghan Taliban’s military offensive, which started in May 2021 and reached its zenith when the Taliban took over Kabul in August 2021. That same month, 45 militant attacks were reported, the most attacks of any single month in 2021, according to PICSS. Despite a one-month ceasefire with TTP from November 10 to December 10, the overall number of militant attacks did not drop in either month.
The report shows that the average number of militant attacks per month in Pakistan increased from 16 attacks per month in 2020 to 25 monthly attacks in 2021, the highest on record since 2017. Militant attacks have not been as deadly since 2018. In 2020, there were 188 militant attacks in which 266 people were killed and 595 injured.
Balochistan was the most turbulent province this year where the highest number of deaths (170) were recorded in 103 militant attacks. The highest number of injured were also reported in Balochistan, where over 50 per cent of all injuries from militant attacks in the country occurred (331), the PICSS Militancy Database shows.
The tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including erstwhile FATA) were the second most impacted region in the country. In the 103 attacks which occurred in the region, 117 people were killed while 103 were injured.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (excluding the tribal districts) was the third most affected region. Fifty-nine militant attacks occurred there, resulting in 63 deaths and 59 injuries. In Sindh, PICSS reported 15 militant attacks in which 23 people were killed and 29 injured. In Punjab, militants carried out 10 attacks killing 10 and injuring 87. Only three militant attacks were reported in the Federal Capital Islamabad, resulting in three deaths. A single attack was reported in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The PICSS Militancy Database shows that militant attacks increased in almost all administrative regions in 2021, except in Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan. Balochistan saw a 110 per cent increase in militant attacks. Violence increased by 27 per cent in erstwhile FATA (KPK tribal districts) and KPK witnessed an 11 per cent rise in militant attacks for the year.
In the wake of escalating terror threats, Pakistani security forces had also stepped up their operations against the militants. PICSS Database shows a 40 per cent increase in security force actions in 2021. In total, security forces conducted 205 reported actions or operations against militants, in which 188 militants were killed and 220 were arrested. The majority of these operations, 57 in total, occurred in Sindh, where 92 militants were arrested and five were killed.
At least 72 militants were killed in the tribal districts of KPK (including erstwhile FATA) and 13 were arrested as a result of 48 operations in the region. There were 38 security force actions in KPK (excluding the tribal districts) in which 21 militants were eliminated and 43 arrested. The second most arrests of militants were reported in Punjab, from where Pakistani security forces arrested 56 militants while killing seven in 32 actions. The most lethal security force actions occurred in Balochistan, where 83 militants were reported killed, and 13 arrested, in just 29 operations.