The Pakistani military establishment’s decision to join hands with the US in its war against terror has made the country suffer 896 deadly incidents of suicide bombings in the past 11 years which have killed 5,243 innocent people and injured 11,221 others between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2012.
Statistically speaking, the staggering death toll (of 5,243) means that the human bombs were able to kill 476 people every year on average and 40 people each month since 2002. Likewise, Pakistan suffered an average 81 suicide bombings every year and seven attacks a month over the past eleven years.
Pakistan had experienced only one suicide bombing before 9/11 when the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad was targeted. However, over the next 11 years between January 2002 and December 2012, the human bombs let loose a reign of terror in almost every nook and cranny of the country, killing over 5,000 people in almost 900 suicide attacks.
In a twisty path that leads from the Pakistani establishment’s switch to Western allegiance to the 2007 Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad, Pakistan has literally been turned into the suicide bombing capital of the world, with the security forces and the intelligence agencies often being targeted by lethal human bombs. As a result, Pakistan’s overall security situation seems to be in absolute turmoil. The highly-secured headquarters of the Pakistan Army, Navy and the Air Force, the offices of the ISI, police stations, military training academies, check posts, government buildings (particularly state symbols) and mosques, imambargas, churches, hospitals, schools and markets have all become targets of the ruthless suicide bombers.
Suicide bombers in fact came to Pakistan in 2002 in the wake of the Musharraf regime’s decision to become a US ally in the terror war by reversing the previous decade’s policy of influencing Afghan politics through the Taliban militia. The reversal brought the Pakistani military establishment into conflict with jehadi organisations active in Afghanistan and Jammu and Kashmir.
The first attack of its kind occurred on March 16, 2002, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a church in Islamabad, killing five people and injuring 40 others. Fifteen people died on May, 2002 when a bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a bus near the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi. Those killed in the attack included nine French engineers and five Pakistanis technicians who had been working on a naval project. The attacks placed Pakistan on the world map of countries marred by suicide bombings.
The next year, in 2003, a total of 70 people were killed and 114 injured in three suicide attacks, two targeting General Pervez Musharraf in December and one targeting former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in June, 2003. In 2004, 91 people were killed and 393 injured in seven incidents.
The death toll in 2005 was 86 people killed and 219 injured in four strikes, while 161 people were killed and 352 injured in seven attacks in 2006. The following year saw an unprecedented rise in suicide attacks, in the wake of the army’s gory Operation Silence against fanatical Lal Masjid clerics and their followers in Islamabad. A record number of 766 people were killed and 1,677 injured in 56 attacks in 2007. The perilous trend of suicide strikes targeting the Pakistani security forces touched alarming heights that year, averaging more than one hit a week as the military establishment lost control of extremist jehadi networks and the leaders it had allegedly nurtured to advance its agenda in Afghanistan and India.
The intensity of the suicide bombings in the aftermath of the Lal Masjid episode could be gauged from the fact that General Musharraf, as commander-in-chief, had directed the armed forces not to wear their uniforms in public, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for fear of extremist backlash. Pro-al-Qaeda tribal leaders exploited the Lal Masjid operation to provoke more suicide attacks against the army in a bid to demoralise the troops.
The idea was to make the intensively Islamised military rank and file realise that the army was making a mistake by following the American dictates under the leadership of a “faithless” Musharraf and his fellow generals.
The suicide bombings multiplied further next year - in 2008 - killing 895 people and injuring 1873 in 60 incidents. There were 78 suicide attacks in 2009, killing 951 people and wounding 2,361. The ugly phenomenon peaked in 2010, when 1,172 people were killed and 2,204 injured in 51 such incidents. In 2011, a sharp decline was noticed in suicide bombings as well as the ensuing death toll. A total of 637 people lost their lives and 1,185 injured in 41 attacks across Pakistan. These bombings further decreased in 2012, although slightly, with a total of 394 people losing their lives and 668 more wounded in 39 such incidents across Pakistan.
According to the monthly break-down of the 39 suicide bombing statistics for the year 2012, 15 people were killed in three attacks in January; 52 in three attacks in February; 65 in six attacks in March; six in a single attack in April; 32 in one attack in May; 52 in four hits in June; 11 in a single attack in July; 18 in two suicide bombings in August; 24 in three attacks in September and 22 more were killed in one incident of suicide bombing in October.
November 2012 saw a record number of nine suicide attacks, mostly targeting Peshawar and killing 61 people. Five more attacks were conducted in December which killed 36 people, including the courageous Bashir Bilour who was targeted on December 22, 2012.
Of the 39 incidents of suicide bombings in 2012 which killed 394 people, 21 were carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, nine in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), four in Punjab, three in Sindh and one in Baluchistan. Peshawar suffered a record number of 14 suicide bombings. On average, 33 people were killed every month by human bombs in 2012. Almost 90 percent of these suicide bombings were claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan.