Thursday, March 22, 2018 | 5:08 AM

IS footprint on the rise in Pakistan, claims report

Monday, January 8, 2018

Footprint of the militant Islamic State (IS) group is continuously on the rise in Pakistan, especially in northern Sindh and Balochistan, as over the past one year responsibility for as many as six deadliest attacks, in which 153 people were killed, was claimed by this outfit.

This has been claimed in a report, ‘Pakistan Security Report 2017’, released by a think-tank, Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), on Sunday.

The organisation compiled its findings on the basis of its multi-source database, coupled with interviews and articles by subject experts.

“The IS has claimed responsibility for just six terrorist attacks in the country, but they were the most deadliest ones, such as attacks on the convoy of Senate Deputy Chairman Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Sehwan shrine, Shah Noorani shrine in Lasbela, Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta and Dargah Pir Rakhyal Shah in Fatehpur area of Jhal Magsi district and the abduction and killing of two Chinese nationals,” PIPS senior project manager Muhammad Ismail Khan said while talking to Dawn.

“There is a need to take the matter more seriously because there is a possibility that foreign fighters would come to Pakistan in near future as things are continuously changing in the Middle East,” he said.

The report claims that despite a 16 per cent decline in terrorist attacks last year, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its associated groups remained the most potent threat. They were followed by nationalist-insurgent groups, especially Balochistan Liberation Army and Balochistan Liberation Front.

What has been quite alarming are the increasing footprints of IS, especially in Balochistan and northern Sindh where the group has claimed responsibility for some of the deadliest attacks, the report says.

Such realities required concerted efforts and a revision of the National Action Plan (NAP), it said suggesting parliamentary oversight of the country’s counter-terror plan.

According to the report, militant, nationalist/insurgent and violent sectarian groups carried out 370 terrorist attacks in 64 districts of the country in 2017. These incidents, including 24 suicide and gun-and-suicide coordinated attacks, left 815 people dead and around 1,736 injured. These figures mean a 16 per cent decrease over the previous year. Even the number of people killed fell by 10 per cent.

Of these attacks, as many as 213, or 58 per cent, were perpetrated by TTP, its splinter groups, mainly Jamaatul Ahrar, and other militant groups. They killed 186 people.

Meanwhile, nationalist insurgent groups, mostly in Balochistan and a few in Sindh, carried out 138 attacks, or 37 per cent of the total, killing 140 people. As many as 19 terrorist attacks were sectarian-related, in which 71 people were killed and 97 injured.

The report noted that as compared to 2016, the attacks in the country from across Afghan, Indian and Iranian borders in 2017 witnessed a significant surge (131pc). A total of 171 cross-border attacks claimed 188 lives and left 348 people injured.

Furthermore, security forces and law enforcement agencies killed a total of 524 militants in 2017 — compared to 809 in 2016 — in 75 military/security operations as well as 68 armed clashes and encounters with militants reported from across the four provinces and Fata.

An interview with National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua, in the report, reveals that a ‘national security policy’ has been documented and circulated internally in the government. Some broad contours of this policy, which is to be launched this year, have been hinted in the report.

According to the report, it is quite likely that the National Internal Security Policy (NISP) will take into consideration global and regional scenarios, including relations between Pakistan, China, and the US.

Another interview in the report — with National Coordinator of National Counter Terrorism Authority, commonly known as Nacta, Ihsan Ghani — revealed that the NISP was under review at present. According to it, a new policy as well as a counter-extremism policy will be announced this year.