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LAHORE: Although the over-worked Pakistani Army has already initiated a targeted operation primarily against the supporters and abettors of terror outfits in Southern Punjab or the Saraiki dialect belt of the province by launching raids in Muzaffargarh, Bahawalpur, Layya, Bhakkar, Rahim Yar Khan and Faisalabad etc, it would not be easy to break the militant support network or pierce through the strongholds of groups and individuals backing several militant outfits here in these extremely backward and long-ignored areas of the country.
Deemed to have been infested and plagued with dangerous terrorists, a greater part of Punjab province has literally bathed in blood during this last decade-and-a-half especially. It is imperative to note than in January 2016, the Punjab government had said it had closed only two madrassas despite having well over 13,700 seminaries. The official document was reportedly shared with the Lower House of the Parliament and was reported by the local media outlets.
According to media reports, the Punjab government had claimed to have completed the extensive and exhaustive work of mapping 13,782 seminaries in the province. A majority, around 7,000 or over 70 per cent of these madrassas were located in Southern Punjab.
While Multan region had topped the list with 1,108 seminaries, it was followed closely by Lahore with 1,102 seminaries. Similarly, Southern Punjab cities of Muzaffargarh and Rahim Yar Khan had followed with 900 and 811 seminaries respectively. Faisalabad housed 483 madrassas while Sargodha had 433 of them.
The sect-wise distribution of the seminaries showed that most schools followed the Barelvi school of thought with 6,606 madrassas (3,656 registered and 2,950 unregistered) aligning themselves with the sect. It was followed by the Deobandi sect with 6,106 seminaries (3,092 registered and 3,014 unregistered) across the province of Punjab.
There were just 230 Shia seminaries of which 147 were registered while 83 were unregistered. As many as 840 Ahl-e-Hadith seminaries were operating across Punjab, of which 408 were registered but a whopping 432 were still unregistered by January 2016.
It is noteworthy that in March 4, 2015, Inspector General of Punjab Police Mushtaq Sukhera had informed the Senate Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges that 147 seminaries in the province were financed by foreign funding.
Here follow some of the more recent acts of terrorism in various parts of Punjab: On January 16, 2015, at least one person was killed and eight others wounded in a remote-controlled blast in the Chani Goth area of Bahawalpur district.
On September 13, 2015, at least 11 people had succumbed to injuries after an explosion had occurred near a packed rickshaw stand at Vehari Road, Multan. Some 57 bystanders had sustained injuries.
On August 16, 2015, late Punjab home minister Shuja Khanzada was killed in a suicide attack at his home in the Shadi Khan Village of Attock district, along with 18 visitors.
On October 14, 2015, at least seven people were killed while 13 others after a bomb had exploded inside the political office of a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Sardar Amjad Farooq Khan Khosa in Dera Ghazi Khan’s Taunsa area. A spokesman of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar had claimed the responsibility of carrying out the attack.
Here follows the chronology of all the major terror hits in various parts of Punjab (excluding the oft-discussed terrorism in Lahore and capital city of Islamabad) since the 9/11 episode:
On October 28, 2001, an attack on a Protestant church in Bahawalpur City had resulted in 16 deaths and six injuries. The casualties were all Christian worshippers except one police officer.
On February 26, 2002, at least 11 Shia worshipers were killed by indiscriminate firing by a group of masked gunmen at the Shah-i-Najaf Mosque in Rawalpindi.
On August 8, 2002, three nurses and an attacker were killed while 25 others injured in a terrorist attack on a church in the Taxila Christian Hospital in Taxila city.
On December 25, 2002, unidentified assailants had thrown a grenade at a Presbyterian church in Daska city, killing three young girls. At least 12 others were injured in the attack.
On March 10, 2003, two people were injured when a masked terrorist had opened indiscriminate fire on a mosque in Faisalabad's Gulistan Colony.
On December 14, 2003, General Musharraf had survived an assassination attempt when a powerful bomb went off minutes after his highly-guarded convoy crossed a bridge in Rawalpindi.
On December 25, 2003 or just 11 days later, another attempt was carried on the then president Musharraf at Rawalpindi. Two suicide bombers had tried to assassinate Musharraf, but their car bombs failed to kill the president. However, 16 others had died instead.
On February 28, 2004, an apparent suicide bomber was killed and three worshipers were injured in an attack on an Imambargah in Rawalpindi's Satellite Town.
On July 30, 2004, an unsuccessful assassination attempt on prime minister-elect Shaukat Aziz was carried out in Fateh Jang (Attock district) while he was campaigning for a by-election. Even though Shaukat had survived the attempt, nine people were killed due to the suicide bombing.
On October 1, 2004, a suicide bombing had left 25 people dead and dozens injured at a Shia mosque after Friday prayers in Sialkot.
On October 7, 2004, a powerful car bomb left 40 people dead and wounded over 100 during a Sunni Deobandi rally in Multan to commemorate the death of Maulana Azam Tariq, an assassinated leader of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan.
On October 7, 2005, eight Qadianis were killed inside a Mandi Bahauddin worship place.
On February 20, 2007, Punjab Minister for Social Welfare, Zil-e-Huma Usman, was shot and killed in Gujranwala.
On August 2, 2007, Sargodha police had shot dead a suspected suicide bomber after the man had failed to detonate the explosives he was wearing. The man, who entered a police training center, had killed a policeman before he was gunned down.
On September 4, 2007, at least 25 people were killed and 66 injured in two suicide bomb blasts in Rawalpindi Cantonment’s high security areas during morning rush hours.
On September 13, 2007, at least 20 off-duty commandos were killed and 11 injured in an apparent suicide blast at an army officers’ mess in Tarbela Ghazi, Haripur near Tarbela Dam.
On October 30, 2007, a suicide bomber had struck a police checkpoint in the high security zone of Rawalpindi, less than a kilometre from president Musharraf's camp office, killing seven people, three of them policemen, and injuring 31 others.
On November 1, 2007, a suicide bomber had rammed his motorcycle into a Pakistan Air Force bus near Sargodha, killing seven officers stationed at the Mushaf Air Base. Three civilians were also killed in the incident.
On November 24, 2007, some 30 people were killed in two suicide attacks in Rawalpindi. In the first incident, a suicide bomber rammed his car into a 72-seater bus parked in front of Ojhri Camp on Murree Road carrying ISI officials to work, killing 28 officials and a bystander. The second incident had occurred as another suicide bomber had attempted to enter the General Headquarters (GHQ). Upon being asked for identification at the GHQ’s check post, he had blown himself up, resulting in the deaths of one security official and a bystander.
On December 10, 2007, a suicide attack had taken place near Minhas Air Base in Attock. A school bus carrying children was targeted. Seven kids were resultantly injured.
On December 27, 2007, two-time premier Benazir Bhutto was assassinated outside Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh. Over 20 others had also lost lives in this tragic incident.
On February 4, 2008, at least 10 people were killed and 27 others injured, when a suicide bomber had crashed his bike into an armed forces bus carrying students and officials Army Medical College near the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
On February 25, 2008, Pakistan Army's top medic Lt General Mushtaq Baig was killed, along with the driver and security guard, when a suicide attack had ripped apart the vehicle he was travelling in near the Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. At least five other passersby were also killed and 20 injured in the incident.
On August 21, 2008, at least 70 people were killed and 67 others injured when two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the gates of the state-run Pakistan Ordnance Factories at Wah Cantt.
On September 26, 2008, a bomb attack on a train killed at least three people and fifteen others near the city of Bahawalpur.
On October 6, 2008, a suicide attacker had managed to kill 20 people in Bhakkar city. The attacker had targeted a political gathering at the residence of a PML-N lawmaker Rasheed Akbar Nawani. However, Nawani had survived the attack.
On February 5, 2009, at least 32 people were killed when a suspected suicide bomber had ripped through a crowd of Shia worshippers outside a Dera Ghazi Khan mosque.
On February 7, 2009, at least seven officers were killed in an attack on a checkpoint in Mianwali city.
On March 16, 2009, at least 14 people were killed and 17 injured when a suicide bomber had blown himself up near the busiest bus stand of Rawalpindi.
On April 5, 2009, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shia religious gathering in an Imambargah in Chakwal, killing at least 22 people and wounding 60.
On July 2, 2009, some 36 persons were injured, some critically, when a lone suicide bomber had rammed his motorcycle into a bus carrying employees of the Army-run Heavy Mechanical Complex at the Peshawar Road near Chur Chowk in Rawalpindi.
On July 13, 2009, at least 12 people, seven children among them, were killed and over 50 injured when a large quantity of explosives stored in a house had exploded in a Main Channu house, which also had an attached seminary.
On August 20, 2009, eight people, including four policemen, were injured when a bomb had exploded close to a police patrol car on the Misryal Road in Rawalpindi.
On September 6, 2009, three policemen were shot dead in Hassan Abdal city in an apparent act of targeted killing.
Between October 10 and 11, 2009, at least 22 people including six soldiers, five SSG commandos, three hostages and eight gunmen were killed in an attack on GHQ Rawalpindi.
On October 23, 2009, eight persons, including two PAF security personnel, were killed and 17 others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber exploded himself at a police check-post on the GT Road near the Pakistan Aeronatical Complex, Kamra (Attock district).
On November 2, 2009, at least 35 people were killed when a suicide bomber had targeted a National Bank branch in Rawalpindi.
On December 4, 2009, at least 40 people were killed and over 86 injured when terrorists had attacked a Friday congregation at the Parade Lane Askari mosque in Rawalpindi Cantonment.
On December 8, 2009, a group of Taliban had launched a gun, rocket and suicide attack on the ISI Multan offices, killing at least 12 people and injuring several others.
On December 15, 2009, a suicide car bomb had exploded in a market outside the residence of the Punjab chief minister's senior adviser and former Punjab Governor, Zulfiqar Khosa, in Dera Ghazi Khan, killing 33 people and wounding 60 others.
On December 24, 2009, a suicide bomber had blown himself up at the entrance to a Rawalpindi Imambargah, leaving a little girl dead and two other people injured.
On July 18, 2010, at least one person was killed and more than 20 others were apparently injured after a suicide bomber attacked a Shia worship place in Sargodha.
On July 19, 2010, unidentified militants had killed two Christian brothers and wounded a cop in Faisalabad.
On October 25, 2010, at least six people were killed and more than 15 others injured in a motorcycle bomb attack outside the shrine of a 12th-century Sufi saint Baba Farid Ganjshakar in Pakpattan city.
On March 8, 2011, a car-bomb at a CNG station in Faisalabad had killed 20 people and wounded more than 100.
On April 3, 2011, over 50 people were killed and 120 wounded when two suicide bombers detonated explosives at the shrine of a 13th-century saint Ahmed Sultan at Dera Ghazi Khan.
On June 26, 2011, a small blast occurred in Multan in the premises of a police station, injuring 10 people, four of which were police officers.
On January 15, 2012, a remote-controlled bomb had killed 18 people participating in a Shia rally at Tehsil Khanpur, district Rahim Yar Khan.
On July 9, 2012, gunmen had attacked a military camp near Wazirabad city, killing seven security personnel.
On August 16, 2012, the Kamra Air Base at Attock was attacked by militants. While one security official was killed in the fire exchange, all eight militants were shot dead by security forces.
On November 22, 2012, a suicide bomber had detonated explosives strapped to his body at a procession near Rawalpindi's Qasr-e-Shabbir Mosque, killing at least 22 people and injuring more than 40, including several children.
On January 1, 2013, Malik Mukhtar Hussain, a prominent licensed organizer of Shia processions in Chiniot city, was killed.
On January 19, 2014, some 13 people, including five security personnel, were killed and 29 others injured after a suicide attack at RA Bazar in Rawalpindi.
On January 9, 2015, a time bomb planted in a drainage pipe had exploded to kill at least eight people near Imambargah Aun Muhammad Rizvi in Rawalpindi's Chatian Hattian area.
And on February 18, 2015, three people were killed and several injured in an explosion at Qasar-e-Sakina Imambargah on Kurri Road, Rawalpindi.