Eliminating terrorism

January 7, 2024

In 2024, the country faces the threat of resurgent terrorist attacks

Eliminating terrorism


n the year 2024, the security forces are expected to continue their operation against terrorists.

The year 2023 saw a large increase in terrorist attacks. More incidents of terrorism were reported in 2023 than in 2022. Since the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in 2021, the security situation has been deteriorating, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to a report by the Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies, 500 civilians and a similar number of security forces lost their lives in terrorist attacks during 2023. The report noted that 2023 was the deadliest year for security forces in a decade, as they lost more than 500 personnel in terrorist bombings and ambushes. The grim statistics from 2023 can only be compared to 2014.

More than 800 terror attacks were carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone. More than 1,400 people, including security personnel, were either killed or injured in these attacks.

In the year 2023, the KP police were targeted in 250 terrorist attacks. 185 officers were martyred and more than 400 were injured. The authorities said that the US-NATO forces had left behind highly sophisticated weapons that were being used against KP police and other security forces.

During 2022, 105 policemen were martyred in 151 terrorist attacks. Most of the attacks against police were in Peshawar, Khyber, Tank, Orakzai, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu and Waziristan districts.Police were also targeted in Orakzai, Lower Dir, Swat, Bajaur, Mardan, Nowshera and Shangla.

This time, unlike in 2014, the organisation called Islamic State in Khorasan Province, aka the Daesh, also carried out some major attacks in Pakistan.

Daesh is reported to have carried out 119 attacks on police, security forces and political gatherings in four years. A total of 627 people were martyred in the Daesh attacks during the four years. Out of 119 attacks, 91 attacks have been carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Daesh also carried out 15 suicide bombings.

A total of 209 people were martyred in 91 attacks by the Daesh in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2023. 42 of these attacks were in Bajaur, in which 91 people were martyred. In Peshawar, the Daesh carried out 35 attacks in which 100 people were martyred. Six attacks were carried out in South Waziristan. Three people were martyred in three attacks in the Khyber district. Three people were martyred in an attack in North Waziristan and three people were martyred in an attack in Swat. Between 2014 and 2023, 55 people have been killed for their affiliation with the Daesh. Security agencies have arrested 305 members of the Daesh.

In November 2023, the Daesh carried out 13 attacks in Peshawar in which nine people were involved, including six facilitators. Six people were killed in these attacks.

Eliminating terrorism

Due to these attacks, Pakistan-Afghan relations remained tense throughout the year. While the leadership of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban is operating openly from Afghanistan, most of the attacks have been carried out by Afghan citizens in Pakistan.

In 2023, apart from the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, some new organisations such as the Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan and the Ansar-ul Jihad, claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks.

Due to these attacks, Pakistan-Afghan relations remained tense throughout the year. While the leadership of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban is operating from Afghanistan, most of the attacks have been carried out by Afghan citizens in Pakistan.

In November 2023, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul Haq Kakar issued a strongly-worded statement against the Afghan Taliban regime for failing to control terrorists on its soil. “In the last two years, Pakistan has lost 2,867 civilian lives. The TTP, operating from Afghanistan, is responsible for these deaths. 15 Afghan citizens were among those involved in suicide attacks. Besides, 64 Afghan citizens have been killed while fighting Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies,” he said.

“After the establishment of the interim Afghan government in August 2021, we had a strong hope that there would be long-term peace in Afghanistan. […] Strict action would be taken against the anti-Pakistan groups, especially the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and they would not be allowed to use Afghan soil against Pakistan.” He said that despite reassurances from the Afghan government that action will be taken against the TTP, “no action was taken against the anti-Pakistan groups”.

“Instead, in some instances, there was clear evidence of enabling terrorism,” he added.

For his part, Afghan Minister for Defense Mullah Yaqoob claimed that most of the ongoing attacks in his country had been carried out by Pakistani fighters. Such statements further strained ties between the two countries. However, diplomatic efforts are under way to bridge the differences. On January 3, Kandahar’s Governor Mullah Shirin met Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani. “Reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to continued engagement and mutually beneficial ties with Afghanistan. Also stressed the imperatives of addressing all issues to harness the full potential for trade and connectivity,” Jilani wrote on his X account after the meeting.

High hopes are also being attached to the expected visit of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the head of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, to Kabul. The visit has been arranged on the invitation of the interim government of the Afghan Taliban in Kabul. The visit has two objectives: to improve the relations with the Afghan Taliban government and to enable the resumption of negotiations with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. Sources say there have been positive signals from leaders of the Pakistani Taliban in this regard.

It is too early to say how successful Maulana Fazlur Rehman will be in the tense diplomatic situation. Even if the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan agrees to a ceasefire, attacks by other organisations like the Daesh might continue.

Due to tensions in Pak-Afghan relations, businesses based across the border faced huge financial losses in 2023. This had an impact in both countries. Efforts are being made currently to bring business back to normal in 2024.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the head of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, and Aimal Wali Khan, the Awami National Party leader are both facing security threats that are likely to persist even after the elections. From an economic point of view, Pakistan will try to work on trade agreements with the Afghan Taliban and support the increase of Pakistani product to Central Asian states through Afghanistan. For this it will need peace in the region.

The writer is a Peshawar-based journalist, researcher and trainer. He also works for the digital media platform The Khorasan Diary

Eliminating terrorism