Having cost 4,808 precious human lives and inflicting injuries on 10,149 others in 303 suicide attacks carried out by fanatic human bombs in almost every nook and corner of Pakistan between September 11, 2001 and 2011 in the aftermath of 9/11, the intensity of deadly suicide bombings seems to be declining in Pakistan.
According to statistics compiled by The News after a careful scanning of the interior ministry’s crime records of the last ten years, compared with 857 Pakistanis who had lost their lives in 41 incidents of suicide bombings last year (between January 1 and September 11, 2010), the death toll for the same period during the current year (between January 1 and September 11, 2011) stands at 601 in 36 incidents of suicide bombings, which were carried out by the human bombs.
It means that compared with the death toll of the last year till September 11, 256 less people have been killed and five less suicide attacks taken place during the current year till September 11. In fact, the people of Pakistan had to bear 51 suicide bombings in 2010, which killed 1,172 people and injured 2,204 others.
According to available figures, on average, the suicide bombers have killed 480 people and injured 1,014 others every year across Pakistan since September 11, 2011. Similarly, the monthly ratio of the killings caused by suicide bombers in the last 120 months (since 9/11) comes to 40 people a month. Likewise, the human bombs have so far carried out 30 attacks in Pakistan every year since September 2001 while the monthly ratio of suicide bombings comes to four attacks a month.
Pakistan was itself spared by any suicide hit until 2001, except for one such attack in 1995 at the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad. Later the suicide bombers spread across Pakistan and the security situation in Pakistan is in utter turmoil today with highly secure key military and civilian installations becoming vulnerable targets.
The phenomenon of suicide bombings actually came to Pakistan in 2002, killing 15 people and injuring 35 others in a single incident that took place on May 8, 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 Pakistani technicians who were working on a naval project. The Sheraton attack was the second hit of the year 2002.
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 that year.
In 2004, 91 people were killed and 393 injured in seven incidents of suicide bombing. In 2005, a total of 86 people were killed and 219 injured in four suicide attacks, followed by seven incidents of suicide bombings in 2006 that killed 161 people and injured 352 more.
However, 2007 saw unprecedented rise in suicide attacks, in the wake of the gory ‘Operation Silence’ carried out by the Pakistan Army against the fanatic Lal Masjid clerics and their followers in Islamabad. Subsequently, a record number of 766 people were killed and 1677 injured in 56 suicide attacks that year. The intensity of the Lal Masjid aftermath could be gauged from the fact that General Musharraf had to publicly direct his troops on July 13, 2007 not to wear their uniforms in public, especially in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for fear of a backlash from extremists.
In fact, the Lal Masjid raid was exploited by pro-al-Qaeda tribal leaders to provoke attacks against the army and demoralise its soldiers in the fight against jehadi terrorism. The idea was to make the intensively Islamised military rank and file realize that the army was making a mistake by following the American dictates under the leadership of a ‘faithless’ Musharraf and his fellow generals.
The number of suicide bombings multiplied further next year — in 2008 — killing 895 people and injuring 1873 in 60 such incidents. There were 78 suicide attacks in 2009, killing 951 people and wounding 2361. The ugly phenomenon of suicide terrorism saw its peak in the year 2010, when 1,172 people were killed and 2204 injured in 51 such incidents.
A total of 601 people have been killed and 842 others injured in 36 attacks carried out by human bombs between January 1 and September 11, 2011.
According to the month-wise break-up of the suicide bombings and the subsequent death toll this year, 45 people were killed in four incidents in January 2011, 39 people were killed in three suicide attacks in February; 127 more lost their lives in six suicide attacks in March; another 65 Pakistanis were killed in April in six bombings carried out by human bombs; 154 people lost their lives in five such incidents in May, 66 more Pakistanis were perished in four attacks in June; 11 people were killed in three attacks carried out in July, 71 Pakistanis lost their lives in four suicide bombings in August while 24 people have so far been killed in one suicide attack which was carried out in Quetta on September 7, 2011.
Investigations carried out by the Pakistani security and intelligence agencies have shown the involvement of several kinds of jehadi groups in the ongoing spate of suicide strikes including the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Asmatullah Maaviya and Qari Zafar groups of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Brigade 313 of Ilyas Kashmiri, Badar Mansoor Group of Harkatul Mujahideen (HM), Qari Saifullah and Amjad Farooqi groups of Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI), Lal Masjid Brigade (LLB), Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Jamaatul Furqaan (JuF), Jaishul-Islami (JuI), Fidayeen-e-Islam (FeI) and Abdullah Azzam Shaheed Brigade (ASB).
Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked Pakistani terrorists actually learnt the deadly skill of suicide hits from their Afghan counterparts. Afghan Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah Akhund was the main architect behind the increasing number of suicide raids against the US-led Allied Forces in Afghanistan while Qari Hussain was known in the Pakistani security circles as the master trainer of young suicide bombers and thus referred to as the “Ustad-e-Fidayeen”, or the teacher of the suicide bomber.
Qari Hussain, who was the cousin of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Ameer Commander Hakimullah Mehsud, had also formed the Fidayeen-e-Islam, a special squad of highly trained suicide bombers that was specifically assigned to target the security forces and the military installations.
Even after Qari Hussain Mehsud’s death, the TTP is believed to have 2000-plus trained suicide bombers across the country. To quote the TTP spokesperson Azam Tariq, “Our ulema have termed suicide attacks as an elite form of jehad. Fidayeen is a sophisticated weapon of the mujahideen; our enemies have no idea how to counter these lethal bombers. Suicide attacks have made the mujahideen invincible”.