Tuesday November 29, 2022

‘In 2015, Karachi the most violent region of Pakistan’

By our correspondents
January 02, 2016

Report released by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS)
purports that though the number of deaths in the city halved since 2014,
the outgoing year’s figures were still higher than anywhere else in the country


Though the number of violence induced deaths in the city almost halved in 2015, Karachi still remained the most violence-affected region in the country, topping even the restive tribal district of North Waziristan, according to a report published by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), an Islamabad-based security think tank.

With 1,040 deaths – down from 2,023 in 2014 – recorded in Karachi this past year, the metropolis saw more deaths than North Waziristan Agency (814), Khyber Agency (752), Peshawar District (136) and Quetta District (106), respectively, states the CRSS report, while also highlighting the fact that every single one of these areas witnessed a significant decline in violence as compared to 2014.

The report maintains that Pakistan continued to face a range of internal security issues in 2015, resulting in a wide range of different forms of violence. However, it adds, that with the enactment of the National Action Plan (NAP), there seemed to be some semblance of coordination in the state’s response.

While direct correlation between the NAP’s implementation and the apparent decrease in violence-related fatalities remains difficult to establish, states the CRSS report, the decline in violent incidents and deaths has been pronounced and significant.

Offering statistics of violence-related deaths all over country, the report states that the major sources of deaths during the outgoing year included terrorism, militant attacks, target killings, and security operations.

Compared to 7,622 deaths in 2014, a total of 4,612 people died across Pakistan in 2015 as a direct result of violence, which is a decrease of roughly 40 percent. This, the research points out, is a fairly significant decline given that, between 2013 and 2014, this number rose by about 35%.

Also, the rate of fatalities in Sindh fell from 2,186 in 2014 to 1,221 in 2015, the report states, while the same figure for FATA declined from 3,371 in 2014 to 1,917 in 2015.

The most remarkable percentage decrease was observed in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, where violence-related fatalities fell from 952 in 2014 to 441 in 2015, a 53 percent decline.

Balochistan also witnessed a slight decrease, whereas Punjab saw an increase to the point that the outgoing year’s figure was almost three times higher than 2013. However, the report also highlights that this was the year that the Punjab police also engaged and killed Malik Ishaq, the Sunni supremacist militant leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. In retaliation, it adds, Punjab’s own law minister, Colonel (Retd) Shuja Khanzada, was killed in a bombing in August.

These incidents point to a volatile security situation in Punjab, the only province where violence-related fatalities registered an increase, the report observes.

Regionally, the decrease in overall fatalities can be largely attributed to a sharp decrease in violence-related fatalities in KP, FATA, and Sindh, the latter two of which exhibited a roughly 45 percent decrease in fatalities, the report adds.


New patterns 

Muhammad Nafees, a senior research fellow at the CRSS, said that new and interesting patterns emerged from a look into the sources of fatalities in the outgoing year.

“Much like in 2014, security operations accounted for the highest number of fatalities in 2015, as Pakistani forces continued to engage militants, insurgents and criminals alike in clean-up operations in the border regions and urban pacification operations,” Nafees, who compiled the report, told The News.

Security operation-related fatalities dropped from 3,391 in 2014 to 2,618 in 2015, the report shows. In addition, it states that there was a sharp decline in terrorism and militancy related fatalities as well as target killings.

Both, terrorism and militancy-related fatalities, declined by half: fatalities from direct militant attacks dropped from 982 in 2014 to 445 in 2015 (a 55 percent decline) and other terrorism fatalities dropped from 516 in 2014 to 246 in 2015 (a 52 percent fall), the report said. The most remarkable decline was observed in target killings, which dropped 65 percent from 2,217 in 2014 to 802 in 2015, as per CRSS data.


Sectarian violence

As per the report, sectarian fatalities also saw a decline in 2015, with 272 deaths recorded as compared to 2014’s 420, a 35 percent decrease. However, the vast majority of these fatalities were Shias, who accounted for 208 of the 272 fatalities (76 percent), according to the CRSS report.

This is especially alarming because despite a significant overall decrease in sectarian violence, Shias have seen a 10 percent increase in fatalities. “Part of the reason for this is the historically weak state response to violence against Shias, and part of it is the impunity with which certain sectarian groups still operate within the country,” Nafees said.

Other minority groups that have been targeted include Christians (19) and Ismailis (48).

Nafees added that Pakistan observed a remarkable decrease in violence-related fatalities from 2014, when certain factors had caused the number of fatalities to sharply increase over 2013. “In fact, the fatalities in 2015 are lower than those in 2013 as well,” he said.

“This may be, in part, due to the state response to extremism and terrorism in the form of the NAP after the horrific attack on schoolchildren at the Army Public School in Peshawar Cantonment on December 16, 2014.”

However, while the data may paint a better picture, it must be said that this is a long, sustained fight that cannot lose momentum over a few local victories, cautioned Nafees.

“Pakistan must continue to combat militancy, insurgency, extremism and crime, by not only physically destroying the enemy, but targeting the radical ideology that gives birth to such activities,” he maintained.