A dark shadow looms over the state as the relentless wave of terrorism surges, casting fear and despair. In recent days, the state has become a battleground, witnessing a chilling escalation of brutal terrorist attacks that shatter the fragile peace. This alarming trend has left communities grappling with fear and uncertainty as the frequency and severity of attacks continue to rise.
The first 11 months of the year witnessed 664 attacks across the country, an increase of 67% from the previous year, according to the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based research organization.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the armed militant group, conducted many attacks throughout the year. In January 2023, these Islamic insurgents attacked Sarband police station in Peshawar; three policemen, including the DSP, were killed. Another suicide attack at a police outpost in Peshawar killed three police officers. The attack on the Karachi police station by the militant group killed two policemen and a ranger. Fifteen people were injured, and four people were killed in a bombing attack targeting a police vehicle in Quetta. Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), an armed group led by TTP, attacked a police station in Dera Ismael Khan, killing 23 people in a gun and suicide bomb attack.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has long been a continual threat to the state. Still, recently, its different factions, like the TJP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, and most importantly, the militant armed group, the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISK), are becoming a danger to the state. Two of the most violent and deadliest attacks this year were conducted by the ISK. On July 30, 2023, ISK conducted a suicide bombing at an election rally of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F)—a Pakistani political party—54 people, including the regional JUI-F leader, were killed. Another attack conducted by the militant group was the suicide attack in the Mastung district of Baluchistan during the Eid Milad-un-Nabi celebrations; 60 people died, and among the decrease was the deputy superintendent of Mastung’s police.
The recent assaults targeting political leaders and figures have become a cause for deep concern. Earlier in 2024, The convoy of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman came under attack in DI Khan, Khyber Pakhtun Khwa. He remained safe, with no loss of life reported. Attacks of the same nature were also reported on various other occasions. During an election rally, former MNA Mohsin Dawar survived an attack. In a similar instance, a JUI-F provincial assembly candidate from Bajaur was attacked by militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s district.
The nation has still not forgotten the brutality and assault these terrorist groups have laid on the foundation of humanity.
One of the deadliest and most tragic incidents out of all was the APS Peshawar attack on December 16, 2014, conducted by TTP. The year 2023 marked the 9th anniversary of this incident; 134 students within the age bracket of 12-18 years were brutally martyred. It was the highest death toll of children in the world in a single terrorist attack. The whole nation salutes the “Martyrs of APS” and stands with the bereaved families in their grief and pain. The Pakistani nation will never forget the dreadful incident and stand united against the curse of terrorism.
In 2023, most of these attacks occurred in the North Western and South Western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan—the regions bordering the neighboring country of Afghanistan, which is home to these terrorist groups. The annual security report by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) marked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces as the main centers for violence; 90% of all the fatalities and 84% of attacks were recorded this year.
There has also been a surprising shift in how these anti-state elements attack the state. During the wave of terrorism spanning from 2012-2019, the primary targets of these groups were mainly civilians and religious gatherings, educational and religious institutions, and, most importantly, children. Still, now their primary targets have been armed forces, security forces personnel, state representatives, and political figures. Determining the exact motive behind these attacks poses a significant challenge, but social, political, or religious objectives may drive them.
At least 1,524 violence-related casualties and 1,463 injuries from these terrorist attacks and subsequent counter-terrorist operations were recorded in 2023. Those killed included 1,000 civilians and security forces personnel.
The state shows zero tolerance towards terrorism and tries to tackle it with full force. Post the APS attack, the state chalked the National Action Plan (NAP), which has been pursued full implementation; though its implementations have always been challenging, the government remains committed to following the goals set in the NAP. In November 2023 alone, 47 terrorists were attacked and killed by the security forces.
TTP has always misused the name of Islam and misinterpreted its teachings to justify violence and have tarnished the image of Islam due to their inhuman and ruthless acts. TTP has always flourished with the support of their foreign masters; the APS attack was also executed with the help of their support. The armed forces of Pakistan, with the support of the people, will never let the sacrifices of the nation go in vain and will continue to eliminate the curse of terrorism from Pakistan.
The author is a Peace and Conflict Studies student at the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad. Her areas of interest include national and international peace and security issues and the Indo- Pacific region. She could be reached at email@example.com