ISLAMABAD: The number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan has posted a phenomenal increase of 73 percent during the 21 months since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan compared to the corresponding period pre-August 2021 under the Ashraf Ghani-led administration, revealed a study.
According to the findings of a report, titled, “Pakistan’s Afghan Perspective and Policy Options”, launched by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) here on Wednesday, overall, terror incidents have significantly increased inside Pakistan since August 15, 2021, when the Taliban took control of Kabul, whereas, the number of fatalities in these attacks – from August 2021 to April 2023 – has also increased by 138 per cent.
The report, which comprises significant recommendations for the policymakers, is the final outcome of extensive monitoring, research and analyses, and eight expert consultations the think tank has conducted since July 2021.
The report also stated that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces have witnessed a marked impact of the Afghan situation in terms of terrorist violence, where the number of attacks during these 21 months surged by 92 per cent and 81 per cent, respectively.
However, the number of terrorist attacks in Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad Capital Territory has posted a relative decline since the Taliban takeover as compared to the corresponding 21 months pre-August 2021.
The report warned that the emerging trends of terrorism will only add to Pakistan’s persistent security challenge in terms of Taliban militancy in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the erstwhile tribal areas, Baloch nationalist insurgency in Balochistan, ethno-nationalist violence in Sindh, as well as growing religious extremism and radicalism.
“Protracted over a longer period of time, such an environment of insecurity, militancy, and violence can pose serious threats to political and economic stability, as well,” the report further warned.
Speaking on the occasion of the launch, Deputy Head of Mission of the Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad Dr Maha Noor Khan said that Norway is one of the few countries of the world that has always supported to continue to have dialogue with the Afghan Taliban.
She said that promoting conflict resolution and reconciliation is the central aspect of Norwegian foreign policy. Expressing her concerns about the women’s situation in Afghanistan, she said that the Taliban’s interim government’s decision to deny women and girls of their right to education and work is a serious violation of human rights. “We underline the need for a more representative and inclusive government in Afghanistan,” she emphasized.
Professor of Politics and International Relations at the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal said that all segments of the society have a consensus that Pakistan’s over five decades-long Afghan policy needed to be revisited.
He further stated that Pakistan should treat Afghanistan as a sovereign state, strengthen its border management and curb smuggling. Defence and strategic affairs analyst Maj Gen Inamul Haque (retd) said that the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and borders fencing are the two variables as well as irritants in Pakistan-Afghan relations.
“If Pakistan deals with both correctly, then it can improve its relationship with Afghanistan,” he said, adding that the banned group has the potential to spoil Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan.
Director PIPS Mohammad Amir Rana said that Pakistan should widen its policy options and policy framework, which should be based on inclusivity with input from all stakeholders, on the issue of Afghanistan.
Former first deputy speaker of the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament Mirwais Yasini pointed out that the core issue is to build trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He added that mistrust existed between both countries for a very long period of time.
Former Senator Afrasiab Khattak said that the presence of militant organisations including TTP and Daesh or Islamic State–Khorasan Province (IS-KP) in Afghanistan can provoke a new conflict as well as a second war of terror, which would have serious consequences for the region.
He urged Pakistan to change its policy towards Afghanistan, adding that the previous Afghan policy has serious flaws in it, which can create more problems.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023