70 per cent increase witnessed in terrorist activities across K-P in 2023 compared to 2022

PESHAWAR:

When Nizam ud Din’s brother and father went to join a Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam rally in Khar, Bajaur District, the family had little idea they would never return.

Back in July, Khar was rocked with a terrorist bombing that took the lives of 63 people and injured 150 others. Amongst the martyred were Din’s brother and father, and their family is still distraught from the grief of losing their loved ones. “5 months have passed since the heinous incident but our grief shows no signs of abating,” a teary Din informed the Express Tribune.

Nevertheless, Din is not the only one whose life has changed due to the resurgent terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). As per numbers obtained from the provincial Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), 2023 has seen a 70 per cent rise in terrorist activity compared to 2022 and a 100 per cent increase in attacks on law enforcement and the police.

As per the CTD, 560 acts of terrorism were reported in the tribal areas of K-P this year. Moreover, 99 cases of extortion were reported this year compared to 55 last year. A further breakdown of the data obtained from the CTD shows that there have been 209 attacks on security personnel this year compared to 124 last year; 243 attacks on police this year compared to 118 last year; 167 policemen and officers have attained martyrdom in terrorist attacks this year, compared to 83 last year; and 101 soldiers and officers have attained martyrdom this year, compared to 96 last year.

 

Also read: At least 23 soldiers martyred in DI Khan attack: ISPR

According to the CTD, D.I. Khan topped the list of districts hit by terrorism with 86 events, followed by Khyber with 72, North Waziristan with 78, Peshawar with 52, North Waziristan with 48, Bannu with 36, and Bajaur with 33. The data points to the fact that terrorism incidents near the Afghan border have increased as only 16 incidents of terrorism took place in Malakand, Swat, and Dir, which do not border Afghanistan.

Dr Khurram Iqbal, Professor of Security Studies at the Australian University, believes that the terrorist attacks along the Pakistan-Afghan border have grown because the Afghan government has failed to reign in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). “There is a growing fear that in 2024, K-P will see a further rise in terrorism because of organisations like the TTP and Daesh moving around its borders freely and taking advantage of tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” predicted Dr Iqbal.

“We desperately need a regional approach to tackle terrorisms,” he implored.

Also read: Bleak times ahead: K-P terror woes to worsen in 2023

Dr Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, Chairman of the International Relations Department at Peshawar University, agrees. “If we want Pakistan to become an economic success story, we have to combat terrorism better than we are currently. While we have resorted to evacuating Afghan refugees to indirectly drive out the TTP, we will need to take other difficult decisions to bring down the rate of terrorist activities,” suggested Dr Soherwordi.

Nevertheless, the Deputy Inspector General CTD K-P, Imran Shahid, believes that terrorist attacks have already decreased. “In 2023 only reporting of terrorist activities has gone up, overall the CTD has done a good job in curbing terror financing, extortion, Daesh, and TTP,” claimed Shahid, further adding that CTD’s effective operations had also led to a decline in target killing.

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