Security Situation of Pakistan in 2007

Security situation in Pakistan during 2007 remained highly unsatisfactory amid terrorist attacks throughout the year. Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson, Benazir Bhutto’s tragic assassination on December 27, 2007, and continued attacks on and kidnapping of Army personnel round the year puts a big question mark on the efficiency and effectiveness of the security forces against terrorism and to control law and order situation in the country.

Accumulatively 1442 terrorist attacks, incidents of political violence and border clashes took place in 2007. Among 1442, there were 1306 terrorist attacks done by the local Taliban, Pakistani Jihadist and sectarian groups and Baloch nationalist insurgents. While 113 incidents of political violence were also reported divided into political, sectarian and inter tribal clashes’ categories distributed as 80 sectarian, 12 political and 21 inter-tribal clashes. On the borders with Afghanistan and Iran the security situation remained intense and 23 major clashes were reported during 2007. In response to 1306 terrorist attacks, the security forces conducted 61 counter-terrorist attacks in Federal Administrative Tribal Areas, Swat and its adjoining areas and in Balochistan. The causalities remained higher compared with last two years, as 3448 persons got killed and 5353 injured in 2007. These casualty figures are 128% and 491.7% higher as compared with 2006 and 2005 respectively.

In 2006, PIPS had recorded total 657 terrorist attacks, which left 907 persons dead and 1543 injured, while in 2005 total attacks were 254 in which 216 persons were killed and 571 were injured. The sharp increase in the terrorist attacks shows the security situation is rapidly deteriorating in the country. The security forces which are responsible for maintaining law and order and preventing terrorist attacks are facing direct threat from the terrorists and looking helpless. This is manifested in the fact during 2007, 232 army men, 163 paramilitary troops and 71 policemen were killed in terrorist attacks and they also faced 41 suicide attacks.Balochistan, NWFP and Tribal Areas appeared as the most troubled spots for the government and security agencies where Baloch nationalist insurgents, Taliban, al-Qaeda operatives and sectarian militants kept striking the security forces. 

However, the indication of success against terrorists and miscreants remained almost the same as compared with 2006. During 2007 security forces killed 1008 terrorists and miscreants, and arrested 1636 suspected terrorists including 427 Taliban, 53 al-Qaeda operatives, 740 Baloch nationalist insurgents, 315 banned Jihadist organizations’ militants and 27 Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorists, who are operating as al-Qaeda force in Pakistan.Comparatively, in 2006 security agencies had arrested 1552 suspected terrorists including 1094 Taliban and Afghan, 47 al-Qaeda operatives,198 other militants and 213 Baloch nationalist insurgents. 

Pakistan faced 60 suicide attacks (mostly targeted at security forces) during 2007 that killed at least 770 besides injuring another 1574 persons. The maximum number of suicide attacks was reported in North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) where 33 such attacks killed 374 persons and injured 640 others. Tribal Areas of Pakistan and Punjab (including Islamabad) faced 11 suicide attacks each whereas 4 suicide attacks hit Balochistan and one Karachi. 

As many as 12 incidents of political clashes during 2007 took 64 lives besides injuring 222 others. Maximum number, 9, of such clashes was reported from Karachi whereas one incident each was reported from Rawalpindi, Hyderabad and Nasirabad (Balochistan). The most violent political clashes ignited on May 12 in Karachi which left 45 persons dead and 195 injured. 

As no security operation is going on in Tribal Areas there is risk of an increased infiltration of militants into Afghanistan besides increasing country’s own security risk.The threat of enhanced ‘targeted’ suicide attacks on political and security forces ‘remains’ intact in the future as no investigations in any suicide attack case have ever been completed.The political unrest if prevails may consolidate the militant outfits in FATA and NWFP, and encourage the nationalist insurgents in Balochistan and Sindh.

Introduction

2007 left a lot of security challenges for Pakistan. The country was already struggling against the Taliban, Jihadist and nationalist insurgents, and now it faced another challenge of political violence, which caused political and administrative turmoil. 

1. Political Unrest Prevailed

The political sentiment in Pakistan stirred up after the presidential election and announcement for parliamentary elections; 2007 is marked with a climax of political activities as well as terrorist attacks. President General Pervez Musharraf suspended Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary, on March 9. The move enraged the community of lawyers, who took to the street in protest. On May 12, a tragedy eventually occurred in the southern port city of Karachi where people who supported Chaudhary clashed with pro-government activists, leaving scores of dead and more than 100 people injured. On July 20, Chaudhary was restored on a Supreme Court verdict. After a short period of calm, the presidential election was held on October 6 and Musharraf gained a crushing victory despite the boycott of opposition parties. However, Supreme Court barred the election commission from issuing a final notification of the polling results.  

On November 3 President Musharraf proclaimed a state of emergency in the country and promulgated a provisional constitutional order (PCO), suspending the constitution. Under the PCO, the then-Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary and some other judges of the Supreme Court were sacked. The political and constitutional uncertainty was accompanied with another tragedy. As Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister and chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), returned to Pakistan on October 18 on a so-called understanding with the administration, two suicide blasts shocked the world in the wee hours of October 19 when Bhutto was leading a procession in Karachi. Around 142 people lost their lives and more than 500 others suffered injuries in the attack, the heaviest casualties Pakistan have ever suffered in recent years. Musharraf, who drew fires from opposition parties and skeptics for holding the office of army chief, relinquished the post on November 28 and took oath as a civilian president. As promised, the president on December 15 lifted the state of emergency, revoked the PCO and revived the constitution. For that Musharraf said that visible and positive changes had been witnessed during the emergency period and the terrorism spreading in tribal areas had been contained. Experiencing a year of turbulence, the political activities have gained momentum with all the players on the arena for the upcoming general elections re-scheduled on February 18. Pakistanis have every reason to hope that a new ruling party can bring them peace, stability and prosperity.

Wave of Violence and Damage

An intensified wave of violence and agitation gripped the country after Ms Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on December 27 in Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi. Violence began as news of her death spread, particularly in her home province of Sindh. Pakistan suffered colossal losses in rioting with damage of more than $200 million to the railways alone.  22 locomotives and 140 coaches were completely burnt and the railway telecommunications and signaling systems damaged. The loss to life, public property and infrastructure has been colossal. Just 3 days of turbulence left more than 50 killed and about 100 injured. Manufacturing, revenue, exports all suffered badly.  The government provided no estimates for losses to other public sectors or to private property but said the supply of fuel and food to all parts of the country had been hit by the trouble. 

During 2007 Karachi faced the threat of political violence between MQM and Sunni Tehreek also. On January 3 office of the Sunni Tehreek (ST) in New Karachi was attacked by the MQM activists that injured 5 ST activists. One MQM activist was killed and 2 ST activists got injured on January 10 when both groups fought a gun battle in Shah Faisal Colony. Later on February 26 a sector in charge of ST was injured when MQM attacked their Korangi office.  The ST activists gunned down an MQM activist on May 31. Bothe groups fought a fierce gun battle on December 25 that left 1 person dead and 2 injured.  Few nationalist parties in Balochistan tried to create hatred against Punjabis. This led to many attacks on Punjabis in the restive Balochistan. 

2. War against Terrorism

2007 witnessed a sharp rise and geographical expansion in radicalization and militancy that touched, after being consolidated in settled districts of NWFP, the heart of Pakistan, Islamabad, as the Lal Mosque aftermath continued to mutilate the face of the country for more than six months in the from of suicide bombing.  

It was on July 3 that the Lal Mosque students tried to snatch arms and wireless sets from security forces deployed around the mosque and attacked them, fueling cross fires. The security forces besieged the mosque after the clashes and launched an operation against militants in the mosque later, leaving 134 people dead and more than 200 others injured.

Although the mosque was cleared of militants, but the local pro-Lal Mosque militants in North Waziristan tribal area scrapped a peace deal with the government and the attacks targeting security forces intensified since mid-July. Suicide AttacksLal Mosque Operation was followed by two violent suicide attacks in the capital killing at least 34 (including 8 policemen) and wounding another 125 persons.

Two suicide attacks in Rawalpindi on September 4 [one in Qasim Market and the other in RA Bazaar] killed 30 and injured another 68 persons.

A convoy of security forces was bombed near Mingora, Swat district, on October 25 leaving in its wake 30 personnel of the Frontier Constabulary (FC) and four civilians dead.  

A suicide bomber struck a police checkpoint in the high security zone of Rawalpindi, less than a kilometer away from President Musharraf’s camp office on October 30 killing 8 people, four of them policemen, and injuring 30 others.

A suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a PAF bus, killing seven officers of the Pakistan Air Force and three civilians on the Faisalabad Road, Sargodha on November 1.

Two suicide bombers struck in Rawalpindi [Hamza Camp and GHQ] on November 24 during the morning rush, targeting military personnel and installations, killing at least 18 people and injuring 40 others. Almost all of the victims were either military personnel or civilians working for an intelligence agency.

Swat Operation

After establishing a Shariah court, Imam Dehri cleric Maulana Fazlullah announced on October 9 the formation of a volunteer force (Shaheen Force) to “control the law & order” and traffic problems in Matta tehsil. The Shaheen Commandos instantly started patrolling in more than 15 vehicles and passed through different roads in Matta and Kabal areas. Later a convoy of security forces was bombed near Mingora, Swat district, on October 25 leaving in its wake 30 personnel of the Frontier Constabulary (FC) and four civilians dead. This invited the ire of the government which decided to flush out the militants from Swat. The security forces’ operation was later joined by the Pakistan Army which eventually regained control in the Swat and till end of December had cleared about 80% areas of Swat. Attacking and Kidnapping the SoldiersThe security forces were randomly targeted and kidnapped in NWFP and FATA. More than 200 soldiers of Pakistan Army were kidnapped on August 30 in South Waziristan and released on November 4 in exchange with 25 terrorists’ release by the government. Many soldiers were beheaded and slaughtered in tribal belt and settled districts of NWFP during 2007.  

3. Balochistan Front

The security situation in Balochistan remained volatile during 2007 where nationalist insurgents continued targeting security forces, state property & installations and pro-government people. After the death of Balach Mari there was an increased violence in the province. Five more nationalist insurgent groups came on the surface including Lashkar-e-Balochistan, Bugti Force, Bugti Lovers and Baloch National Army. Earlier three groups, Balochistan Liberation Army, Balochistan Liberation Front and Bugti Militia were active. One Baloch Islamist nationalist group, Jandullah headed by Abdul Malik Ragi also emerged with an ideology of the unification of Iranian, Afghan and Pakistani Balochistan for establishment of an Islamic state.    

4. Sectarian Front

Besides a few Sunni-Shia and other sectarian clashes at some places, the rival groups in Khyber and Kurram Agency continued to play havoc with the lives of the people. In Kurram Agency Shia and Sunni tribes became extremely sadistic against each other during last quarter of the year. During their clashes 346 people were killed and 545 injured. A large number of people got displaced and about 900 families from Kurram Agency had migrated to Afghanistan.The Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansar ul-Islam groups in Khyber Agency continued to spread sectarian violence to the neighbouring areas as well. They were also trying to get political hold in the agency as well besides issuing moral codes like Taliban.Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar areas witnessed Shia-Sunni clashes and Sipah-e-Sahaba was seen active in these areas.  

5. Al-Qaeda Arrests

The security forces continued to target the al-Qaeda and its associates in Pakistan during 2007 and during operational attacks and search operation arrested 53 al-Qaeda operatives.  

6. Disappearance

The issue of enforces disappearances and unlawful detentions in Pakistan remained in limelight during 2007. Most of the disappearances happened amid war on terror and Baloch insurgency. The Supreme Court of Pakistan showed much judicial activism in this regard and many disappeared persons were presented before the court and several got freed as well. The human rights and civil society activists also played their role to highlight the issue.     

Findings

1.     Suicide Attacks

Pakistan faced 60 suicide attacks (mostly targeted at security forces) during 2007 that killed at least 770 besides injuring another 1574 persons. The maximum number of suicide attacks was reported in North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) where 33 such attacks killed 374 and injured 640 others.

Tribal areas of Pakistan and Punjab 9 including Islamabad) faced 11 suicide attacks each whereas 4 suicide attacks hit Balochistan and one Karachi. There was witnessed a visible increase in suicide attacks during and after July’s Lal Mosque debacle. Only in July 15 suicide attacks were reported mostly in NWFP, Islamabad and Punjab that killed 191 and injured 366 people. There were 8 and 7 suicide attacks in August and September respectively. The last month of 2007 was also a month of suicide bomber when 10 suicide attacks hit the country including the Liaquat Bagh attack that assassinated Benazir Bhutto. 

Pakistan has faced an increasing menace of suicide attacks over the past 2-3 years. A quite parallel dilemma is lack of any sane scientific criteria and preliminary investigative findings for declaring an attack a ‘suicide attack’. What makes it more painful is the fact that no suicide attack has ever been meticulously studied, investigated and unearthed. We have just reports about the suicide bombers entering different cities and exploding them violently at or near their targets. Their death obliterates also the footsteps they traversed from their exit to target point. Not even a single suicide attack has yet been proved that it was a suicide attack if seen from a real investigation point of view. The only proof has been the body parts of the bomber (especially the head) or the parts of the cycle, motorcycle or of some other vehicle used for suicide bombing. Nonetheless, there has been often contradiction between the eye witnesses’ view and the state declaration.

The most confusing attack in this regard was on Pakistan Peoples Party’s rally gathered to welcome the Chief Justice in Islamabad. The government stance declaring this attack a suicide one was rejected by many eye witnesses. The political workers, the advocates and other persons present in or around the welcome camp were not ready to accept it as a suicide attack. Some of them even said that the powerful blast had happened due to a bomb planted inside a heap of sand.

The first assassination attempt on Benazir Bhutto in October in Karachi was instantly declared a suicide attack. But Ms Bhutto at that time had clarified at that time that 16 heads were found near the place of the blast; were they all suicide bombers!

Similarly an attack on Pakistan Air Force bus on November 1 in Sargodha was termed a suicide attack by the government where a suicider rammed his explosive laden motorcycle into the bus. But quite surprisingly neither the body parts of the bomber nor the parts of his motorcycle were recovered from the place. 

The 27-July suicide attack in Aabpara, Islamabad was also contentious.  

1.Total Attacks Accumulatively 1442 terrorist attacks, incidents of political violence and border clashes took place in 2007.

Among 1442, there were 1306 terrorist attacks done by the local Taliban, Pakistani Jihadist and sectarian groups and Baloch nationalist insurgents.

While 113 incidents of political violence were also reported divided into political, sectarian and inter tribal clashes’ categories distributed as 80 sectarian, 12 political and 21 inter-tribal clashes.

On the borders with Afghanistan and Iran the security situation remained intense and 23 major clashes were reported during 2007.

In response to 1306 terrorist attacks, the security forces conducted 61 counter-terrorist attacks in Federal Administrative Tribal Areas, Swat and its adjoining areas and in Balochistan. The causalities remained higher compared with last two years, as 3448 persons got killed and 5353 injured in 2007. These casualty figures are 128% and 491.7% higher as compared with 2006 and 2005 respectively. 

Northern Areas of Pakistan faced lower number of attacks in 2007, where 2 incidents were reported which killed one person and left 9 injured. Azad Kashmir also remained peaceful comparatively with rest of the country where in 4 terrorist incidents one got killed and 7 injured. This casualty was the result of a violent clash between two Kashmiri militant group; Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb ul-Mujahedeen.  

In Punjab 26 terrorist incidents were reported, which claimed 113 lives and 276 injuries.

In Sindh 27 terrorist attacks/political clashes were reported out of whom 17 were in Pakistan’s business capital Karachi.

Federal capital, Islamabad remained in spotlight because of Lal Mosque operation and suicide attacks in which 140 people lost their lives and 338 got injuries.    

a.      Balochistan

In Balochistan 5 more nationalist insurgent groups came on the surface including Lashkar-e-Balochistan, Bugti Force, Bugti Lovers and Baloch National Army.

Earlier three groups, Balochistan Liberation Army, Balochistan Liberation Front and Bugti Militia were active. One Baloch Islamist nationalist group, Jandullah headed by Abdul Malik Ragi has also emerged with an ideology the unification of Iranian, Afghan and Pakistani Balochistan for establishment of an Islamic state. All these groups including al-Qaeda operative Lashkar-e-Jhangvi carried out 536 attacks that killed 224 persons and injured 564. Nationalists’ capability to hit the target declined as compared with 2006.

Gas pipelines, security check posts and camps, government offices, rail tracks and bridges were targets of the insurgents.

In 2006 they had killed 277 persons in 403 attacks and damaged the government property at large scale, but in 2007 government succeeded to secure important gas pipeline routes and official installation.   

b.     NWFP

NWFP remained the third troubled spot during 2007 where 460 terrorist attacks reported, which killed 1096 persons and injured 1593.

The former interior minister, Aftab Sherpao was targeted twice (on April 28 and December 21) in Charsadda by suicide bombers. The terrorists (pro-Taliban militants, al-Qaeda associates, banned militant outfits and other groups of tribal militants) attacked military convoys, Pakistan Army, Levies, Scouts, FC force, police, security checkposts and checkpoints, cantonment areas, police stations, pro-government tribal elders, political leaders, video/audio shops, barbers, tailors, NGOs, government and private schools, hospitals, alleged US spies and foreign interests etc.

A large number of security personnel was also kidnapped and killed by the terrorists.   The rate of terrorist attacks in NWFP during 2007 was increased by 666.7% as compared with 2006 whereas death casualties increased by 688.5%.

In 2006 there were reported 60 terrorist attacks/sectarian clashes which left 139 persons dead and 303 wounded.  

c.      FATA

A total of 435 attacks/clashes (including terrorist attacks, counter-terrorist attacks, sectarian clashes, clashes between security forces and the militants and inter-tribal clashes) occurred in Federally Administrated Tribal Areas in 2007 that killed 1663 and injured another 2020 persons.

The rate of attacks/clashes in 2007 was increased by more than 200% whereas the death casualties increased by 338.8% as compared with 2006.

During early months of 2007 an increased violence was witnessed in FATA especially in Waziristan due to presence of foreign militants. During March government supported the local tribesmen to flush out the foreign elements from South Waziristan thus violent clashes erupted there. The militants then started to enter North Waziristan and other areas and eventually the security situation in North Waziristan started to deteriorate. At least 22 people were killed and 10 others wounded when 3 guided missiles hit a cluster of compounds in Datakhel area of N. Waziristan on June 19.    

The fiercest suicide attack in FATA was reported on July 14 in Razmak (besides 3 other suicide attacks in the same month) that killed 24 FC men besides injuring another 29. The militants kidnapped more than 200 Pakistan Army soldiers in South Waziristan on August 30 and released 213 soldiers on November 4 after the government freed 25 of their men under a prisoners’ swap made possible by a 21-member peace Jirga. Sectarian clashes between the rival groups continued intermittently in Khyber Agency and Kurram Agency throughout the year.

During November the security situation in Kurram Agency started to deteriorate further that killed hundreds of people during just 2 months.     

Local Taliban from tribal areas and some districts of the NWFP on December 14 decided to set up a centralized organization for a joint war against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and appointed Baitullah Mehsud as their Central Amir. The militants named their movement as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and said the aim of the movement was to enforce Shariah in their respective areas.   

d.     Sindh & Karachi

The security situation in Sindh remained relatively calm during 2007. In total 10 incidents of attacks/clashes 5 people were killed and another 4 injured (see table 8).  Nonetheless 17 attacks/clashes were reported in Karachi during 2007 that killed 205 and injured another 540 persons (see table 9).  

Karachi became a security flash point after May 12 carnage claiming 46 lives and injuring 163 people till May 31. Rallies of MQM, a government ally party, and the opposition parties came in direct clash on different places in Karachi on May 12. Opposition parties came out to receive the Chief Justice of Pakistan who was to address at the Supreme Court Bar Association. 

Over 145 participants of a procession led by Benazir Bhutto lost their lives on October 18 after two powerful blasts rocked the slow-moving motorcade edging its way past the Karsaz Bridge on Shahrah-e-Faisal. At least 350 people were injured and a huge loss to vehicles was caused by the blasts. According to reports the explosions clearly targeted Ms Bhutto’s specially built vehicle. Later it was revealed that it was a suicide blast. 

e.      Punjab

Punjab faced 29 terrorist attacks during 2007 almost same as were reported during 2006 but the death casualties increased by more than 300% to 113. Another 276 people were also killed during these attacks (see table 10).

The last half of the 2007 remained more violent. Two suicide attacks in Rawalpindi were reported during the month of September killing 30 and injuring another 68 persons. According to official sources the banned militant groups were behind these attacks. The target of the attacks was Defence Services personnel. Security analysts linked these suicide attacks with Lal Mosque imbroglio.  

A suicide bomber struck a police checkpoint in the high security zone of Rawalpindi, less than a kilometer away from President Musharraf’s camp office on October 30 killing 8 people, four of them policemen, and injuring 30 others. Two suicide bombers struck in Rawalpindi on November 24 during the morning rush, targeting military personnel and installations, killing at least 18 people and injuring 40 others. Almost all of the victims were either military personnel or civilians working for an intelligence agency. Most of the casualties occurred when a suspected bomber rammed his explosive-laden van into a bus packed with security personnel at the gate of an intelligence establishment’s compound, known as Hamza Camp (old Ojhri Camp), near Faizabad. The other bomber blew himself up when security guards stopped him at a checkpoint on the outer ring of the General Headquarters (GHQ).

The manner in which militants had targeted army personnel in sensitive security zones over the past months had made investigators look for a highly organized group which had access to both explosives and information about the movement of security personnel. 

The most deadly attack in 2007 was the December-27 attack on Benazir Bhutto that not only assassinated Ms Bhutto but also took another 25 lives besides injuring 48 others. Ms Bhutto was driving out of the park after speaking to a big election rally when, according to witnesses and police officials, the attacker struck first with gunfire and then blew himself up possibly with an explosive device strapped to his body.   

f.       Kashmir  

g.      Northern Areas

Northern Areas of Pakistan generally remained peaceful. Only 2 incidents took place in the areas leaving 1 dead and 9 injured (see table 12).  h.     IslamabadJuly was the month of violence for Islamabad. A six-month long stand off between Lal Mosque clerics and the government authorities exploded into a major clash on Tuesday, July 3. An indefinite curfew was imposed in G-6 sector where Lal Mosque and Jamia Hafsa are located and troops from Pakistan army’s 111 Brigade and units of Special Services Group (SSG) commandoes took control of the complex. The trouble started around 11.30am when some madrasa militants tried to occupy a nearby government building and, during the scuffle, snatched a number of assault rifles from the police men posted there. Within no time a fierce clash broke out between the armed seminary students and security troops.  

Sporadic clashes between Lal Mosque students and the security forces continued for 8 days and finally after death of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the mosque was rescued. These 8 days of operation killed 106 persons and injured another 213.  Lal Mosque operation was followed by two violent suicide attacks in the capital killing another 34 (including 8 policemen) and wounding at least 125 persons. First suicide attack took place in F/8 area on July 17 in a reception gathering of Pakistan Peoples Party for Chief Justice of Pakistan. It took 19 lives besides critically injuring another 60 persons.

The second suicide attack was reported on July 27 inside a hotel in Aabpara market. The suicide bomber targeted policemen there and killed 15 people including 8 policemen and injured about another 65 persons. 

2.     Political Unrest

As many as 12 incidents of political clashes took 64 lives besides injuring 222 others during 2007. Maximum number, 9, of such clashes was reported from Karachi whereas one incident each was reported from Rawalpindi, Hyderabad and Naseerabad (Balochistan). The most violent political clashes ignited on May 12 in Karachi which left 45 persons dead and 195 injured

Political Clashes 

Sectarian Front

As many as 80 incidents of sectarian clashes killed 521 persons and injured another 757 during 2007. Kurram Agency and Khyber Agency remained in the grip of sectarian violence which observed 26 and 24 days of violent sectarian clashes respectively during 2007.  In Kurram Agency Shia and Sunni tribes became extremely sadistic against each other during last quarter of the year. The death toll in these clashes in Kurram Agency was much higher as compared with other areas; 346 people were killed and 545 injured. A large number of people got displaced from the agency and there were reports that terrorist and tribal militants from the neighbouring areas had entered the Kurram Agency to add terrorism threat to the existing sectarian violence there. 

In Khyber Agency where two rival groups, Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansar ul-Islam, have been playing havoc with the lives people also witnessed the ‘Taliban’ emerging from the sectarian layers of violence and issuing the same moral codes as in other areas. The sectarian clashes in Khyber took 140 lives besides injuring 151 others. Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar areas also witnessed Shia-Sunni clashes and Sipah-e-Sahaba was seen active in these areas. As many as 14 and 9 people were killed in DI Khan and Peshawar respectively in such clashes. Table: 16 Sectarian Clashes    

4.     Casualties

In total 3448 people were killed during various attacks and clashes. The highest number of casualties was reported from Tribal Areas that was 1663. NWFP followed the suit with 1096 killings. As many as 224 casualties were reported in Balochistan whereas 205 persons were killed in Karachi (see table 17).  * Paramilitary forces includes FC and Rangers  

a.      Civilian

The civilians continued to suffer the most from terrorism, political violence, operational attacks from the security forces and the sectarian clashes across the country round the year. The 1974 civilians killed make the 57.25% of the total casualties in Pakistan. The maximum number of civilians (929) was killed in Tribal Areas followed by NWFP, Karachi and Balochistan with 557, 185 and 157 civilian casualties respectively. 

b.     Security Forces

Security forces were increasingly targeted during 2007 throughout Pakistan besides the casualties during clashes with militants and insurgents. In total 466 security personnel were killed including 163 paramilitary forces (FC and Rangers), 71 police men and 232 Pakistan Army personnel. As many as 175 security personnel were killed in Tribal Areas and 170 in NWFP followed by 63, 20, 19 and 18 in Balochistan, Karachi, Islamabad and Punjab respectively. 

c.      Terrorists/ Miscreants

After civilians the maximum casualties have been reported of terrorists and miscreants that comprise 29.2% of total casualties.  In total 1008 terrorists and miscreants were killed; 559 from Tribal areas, 369 from NWFP, 76 from Islamabad and 4 from Balochistan.   

5.     Operation against Terrorists 

The security forces and law enforcement agencies continued operations against the terrorists across the country. In total 1636 terrorist were arrested during 2007 whereas 2729 Afghan nationals were also held by the security forces living or entering illegally in Pakistan. The maximum arrests were made in Balochistan where nationalist insurgents are challenging the writ of the state. As many as 53 al-Qaeda operatives, 427 Taliban, 315 banned militants groups’ activists and 27 Lashkar-e-Jhangvi activists were among those arrested.  

*Taliban includes local and foreigner Taliban militants.

*Banned militant groups include Jihadi and sectarian outfits.

*Others include foreigners as well.  

6.     Border Situation  

a. Afghanistan

There were 22 incidents of clashes and firing at Pak-Afghan border during 2007 that killed 76 and injured another 91 persons. The border situation remained tense throughout the year. After Pak-Afghan Grand Jirga in Kabul the situation started to improve and there was also less exchange of hot words between the two countries.  The major (NATO) air strikes incidents occurred on June 23 when US-led allied planes made an aerial raid in South and North Waziristan killing at least 33 and wounding another 54 people. The coalition fighter planes pounded forest area of Shawwal valley in North Waziristan and the jet fighters also targeted Angore Adda region of the S. Waziristan.  

b. India

The only incident of clash at Indo-Pak border was reported on July 19 at Serkreek, Karachi when Indian Naval forces opened fire at the fishermen’s boats and killed one.

c. Iran

The situation at Pak-Iran border also remained peaceful. To avoid the infiltrations from Balochistan side Iran also built a wall along its border. Only one incident of firing from Iranian border security forces was reported on February 16 at Bampusht, Panjgure place that killed 2 civilians. 

d. LoC

There was not any cross development reported on LoC during 2007. There were reported 2 incidents of firing at Poonch sectors (November 26 and 28) – one at Pak Checkpost and the other at civilians – but no casualty was reported.    

7.     Projections 

The security situation in FATA and NWFP does not seem to be addressed in the near future.  The formation of United Taliban Front headed by Baitullah Mehsud can have very serious security repercussions not only for tribal belt but also for Pakistan and Afghanistan. As no security operation is going on in Tribal Areas there is risk of an increased infiltration of militants into Afghanistan besides increasing country’s own security risk. The country has witnessed an increased number of suicide attacks during 2007 but there have not been any sane security measures to check this menace. Not even a single suicide attack has been investigated properly. This may lead the country to a worst security scenario where the terrorists remain unhindered and encouraged to carry out more suicide attacks. The threat of enhanced ‘targeted’ suicide attacks on political and security forces thus ‘remains’ intact in the future. The political unrest if prevails may consolidate the militant outfits in FATA and NWFP, and encourage the nationalist insurgents in Balochistan and Sindh. After the assassination of Ms Benazir Bhutto the political unrest can increase in Sindh and as well as in Balochistan.   

A Critique of Benazir

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Benazir Bhutto’s assassination is another body-blow for Pakistan,

whose trajectory is every day appearing more and more distinct from that of its estranged sister, India. The killing has already caused widespread rioting; if government involvement in the shooting is proven, or at least widely suspected, it might even push Pakistan into full-scale civil war.

The fatal assassin’s bullet in Benazir’s neck removes from the scene a courageous, secular and liberal woman who continued to fight on despite a suicide bomb attack aimed at eliminating her the day of her return from exile, and who shrugged off the clear danger to her life that further campaigning entailed.

It gives further momentum to Pakistan’s jehadis in their campaign to turn Pakistan into a Taliban-like Islamist state, and may well lead to the postponement of the January 8 election though the caretaker PM for the moment has said they will be held on schedule. Nawaz Sharif, leader of the rival Muslim League (N), has said his party will now boycott the poll, which already makes its results meaningless.
Benazir’s death is also, of course, a personal tragedy, both for the striking woman who embodied the hopes of so many liberal Pakistanis, and for her family. Benazir Bhutto has three children who will now be left motherless, and a party—the most popular in the country—which will be left leaderless. She has no clear successor, and trained up no one as a deputy who can easily fill her shoes. As she said herself in her last speech, shortly before being killed, “Bomb blasts are taking place everywhere”, “The country is in great danger.”

The West always had a soft spot for Benazir. Her neighbouring heads of state may have been figures as unpredictable and potentially alarming as President Ahmadinejad of Iran and a clutch of Afghan warlords—but Benazir has always seemed reassuringly familiar to Western governments. She spoke English fluently because it was her first language. She had an English governess, went to a convent run by Irish nuns, and rounded off her education with degrees from Harvard and Oxford. For the Americans, what Benazir Bhutto wasn’t was possibly more attractive even than what she was: she wasn’t a religious fundamentalist, she didn’t have a beard, she didn’t organise mass rallies where everyone shouts ‘Death to America’, and she doesn’t issue fatwas against Booker-winning authors—even though Salman Rushdie went out of his way to ridicule her as the Virgin Ironpants in Shame.

However the very reasons that make the West love Benazir are the same that leave many Pakistanis with second thoughts. Her English may be fluent, but you can’t say the same about her Urdu which she speaks like a well-groomed foreigner: fluently but ungrammatically. Her Sindhi is even worse: apart from a few imperatives, she is completely at sea.

Equally, the tragedy of Benazir’s end should not blind us to her as astonishingly weak record as a politician. Benazir was no Aung San Suu Kyi, and much of the praise now being heaped upon her is misplaced. In reality, Benazir’s own democratic credentials were far from impeccable. She colluded in massive human rights abuses, and during her tenure, government death squads in Karachi were responsible for the abduction and murder of hundreds of her MQM opponents. Amnesty International accused her government of having one of the world’s worst records of custodial deaths, killings and torture.

Within her own party, she declared herself the lifetime president of the PPP, and refused to let her brother Murtaza challenge her for its leadership. When he was shot dead in highly suspicious circumstances outside her home, Benazir was implicated. His wife Ghinwa, and her daughter Fatima, as well as Benazir’s own mother, all firmly believed that she gave the order to have him killed.

As recently as this autumn, Benazir did and said nothing to stop President Musharraf ordering the US and UK-brokered “extraordinary rendition” of her rival Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia, and so remove from the election her most formidable rival. Many of her supporters regarded her deal with Musharraf as a betrayal of all her party stood for.

Benazir also, famously, presided over the looting of Pakistan. In 1995, during her rule, Transparency International named Pakistan one of world’s three most corrupt countries. Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari—widely known as ‘Mr 10 Per cent’—faced corruption charges in Pakistan, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.

Moreover, personally, as well as intellectually, she was a lightweight, with little grasp of economics; nor did she subscribe to any firm political philosophy. Benazir’s favourite reading was royal biographies and slushy romances: on a visit to her old Karachi bedroom, I found stacks of well-thumbed Mills & Boons lining the walls; a striking contrast to the high-minded and cultured Indira Gandhi, in some ways her nearest Indian counterpart in their flawed centrality to their respective nations’ histories.

Partly as a result of this lack of ideological direction, Benazir was a notably inept administrator. During her first 20-month-long premiership, astonishingly, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation, and during her two periods in power she did almost nothing to help the liberal causes she espoused so enthusiastically to the Western media. It was under her watch that Pakistan’s secret service, the ISI, helped instal the Taliban in Pakistan, and she did nothing to rein in the agency’s disastrous policy of training up fundamentalist jehadis to do the ISI’s dirty work in India and Afghanistan.

Benazir was a feudal landowner, whose family owned great tracts of Sindh. Real democracy has never thrived in Pakistan in part because landowning remains the principal social base from which politicians emerge. The educated middle class—which in India gained control in 1947—is in Pakistan still largely excluded from the political process. Behind Pakistan’s swings between military government and democracy lies a surprising continuity of interests: to some extent, Pakistan’s industrial, military and landowning elites are all interrelated and look after one another. The recent deal between Musharraf and Benazir, intended to exclude her only real rival, Nawaz Sharif, was typical of the way that the army and the politicians have shared power with minimal reference to the actual wishes of the electorate.

Today Benazir is being hailed as “a martyr for freedom and democracy”, at least in the American networks. Yet in many ways she was the person who did more than anything to bring Pakistan’s strange variety of democracy—really a form of ‘elective feudalism’—into disrepute and helped fuel the growth of the Islamists.

Now, amid the mourning and shock, there is also some hope that Benazir’s death could yet act as a wake-up call for the secular and moderate majority in the country. The PPP still contains many of Pakistan’s most talented politicians—such as the leader of the lawyers’ movement, the articulate Cambridge-educated Aitzaz Ahsan, or the stylish human rights activist, Sherry Rehman, who was a former editor of Pakistan’s best newsmagazine, The Herald. If such people were to take over the party, rather than more Sindhi feudals like Benazir’s corrupt husband, Asif Ali Zardari (today apparently the frontrunner at the beginning of the race), or the PPP’s vice-chairman, Amin Fahim, they could open it up to the urban middle class, and steer the party into power as a genuinely democratic, meritocratic and moderate force for good.

If this were to happen, there is still a glimmer of hope that Benazir’s death might yet strengthen democracy in Pakistan, and end the long and disastrous period of power-sharing between the country’s landowners and their military cousins. But sadness at the demise of this courageous woman should not mask the fact that she was as much part of Pakistan’s problems as its solution.

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