SUICIDE TERRORISM IN PAKISTAN
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR -- PAPER NO.381
There were 56 acts of suicide terrorism in Pakistan during 2007. Four of these were committed during the first half of 2007 before the Army's commando raid in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad from July 10 to 13,2007. The remaining 52 were committed between July 13 and December 31,2007.
2. As against this, there have already been 17 acts of suicide terrorism between January 1,2008, and March 11,2008. Ten of these were committed before the elections on February 18,2008, and the remaining seven after the elections. There were three in January, nine in February and five till March 11,2008.
3. Area-wise comparative figures are given below (figures within brackets indicate the number of suicide attacks till March 11 this year )
Federally-Administered Tribal Areas ---- 23 ( 4 )
North-West Frontier Province ---- 21 ( 7 )
Punjab --- 9 ( 6)
Balochistan --- 2 ( Nil )
Sindh ----- 1 ( Nil )
4. Of the seven attacks in the NWFP this year, three were in the Swat Valley (Mingora), two in Peshawar and one each in Charsaddha and Darra Adam Khel. Of the six in Punjab, four were in Lahore and two in Rawalpindi. Of the four in FATA, two were in North Waziristan where according to the US, the sanctuaries of Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and other pro-Al Qaeda groups are located, one in the Kurram Agency where there have been frequent Shia-Sunni clashes and one in the Bajaur Agency where it is suspected that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 of Al Qaeda, has taken shelter. So far this year, there has been no act of suicide terrorism in South Waziristan, where the headquarters of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan headed by Baitullah Mehsud is located. In 2007, there were 20 attacks of suicide terrorism by the Mehsuds in South Waziristan.
5. According to reliable Pakistani police sources, the needle of suspicion points as follows:
Al Qaeda or the IMU or the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan --- the two attacks in North Waziristan and one in Bajaur
The Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohamadi of Maulana Fazlullah --- the three attacks in Swat.
The Jaish-e-Mohammad, the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Tehrik-e-Taliban--- The six in Punjab, two in Peshawar and one each in Charsaddha, Darra Adam Khel and Kurram.
6. There have already been 266 fatalities --- combatants as well as non-combatants--- till March 11, 2008, as against 636 the whole of last year.
7. It is learnt that the Lahore office of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which was attacked on March 11,2008, and severely damaged, houses, inter alia, a Joint Interrogation Centre to interrogate arrested terrorist suspects. It also has the office of a top secret counter-terrorism investigation division trained in the US. The private advertising agency of Model Town, Lahore,, which was attacked the same day, is located close to the office of a Special Counter-Terrorism Investigation Unit of the Punjab Police. The police suspect that finding it difficult to penetrate this office because of its strong physical security, the suicide terrorist must have caused the explosion in the nearby office of the advertising agency, hoping that the blast would also damage the office of the police unit. It did not.(12-5-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. Eemail@example.com )