Security situation not as bad as before 2008, 2013 polls: report

148

ISLAMABAD: While efforts are being apparently made to avoid polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to ‘poor’ security, a report released by an independent think tank claimed that situation in the country is not as bad as it was during the 2008 and 2013 general elections.

The situation was bleak before the 2008 elections as just months before the polls, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi, more than 180 people were killed in Karachi, Red Mosque operation was conducted and the banned TTP came into being.

During the 2013 electioneering, Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples Party, then -Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and independent candidates were the target of the terrorists.

The militants killed at least 119 people and left over 438 injured in 59 attacks on the candidates, election offices, public meetings of different political parties, polling stations, and the office of the election commission during the 60-day election process.

However, the data released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) showed that the current situation is not much different from 2018 when the last general elections were held.

Moreover, it said, security forces are also better trained and equipped than they were in 2008 and 2013.

“In 2008, the elections were held on February 18. The security situation was very bleak at that time as former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed just two months before the elections on Dec 27, 2007, in Rawalpindi. In Oct 2007, more than 180 people were killed in Karachi when a blast took place in a PPP rally held to welcome Ms Bhutto. The year 2007 also witnessed the Red Mosque operation in July. The TTP was also formed just two months before the general elections (Dec­ember 2007),” the report stated.

According to the PICSS data, 639 terrorist attacks took place in 2007 in which 1,940 people were killed and 2,807 others injured.

In 2008, January witnessed 459 deaths in 39 attacks, the majority of them in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the erstwhile Fata.

 

“During 2022, Pakistan faced 380 militant attacks in which 539 people were killed and 836 injured. That means there was a 72 percent reduction in deaths and a 70pc decline in the number of injured in 2022 compared with 2007. The number of deaths in January 2008 (the preceding month of general elections) alone was more than the whole year of 2022,” it stated.

In 2013, general elections were held on May 11. According to the PICSS militancy database, the four preceding months before May 2013 witnessed 366 terrorist attacks in the country in which 1,120 people died and 2,151 suffered injuries. It means those four months witnessed 52pc more deaths.

Data shows political parties were the major targets of terrorists during the elections campaign of 2013.

“The militants killed at least 119 people and left more than 438 others injured in some 59 attacks on different candidates, elections offices, rallies and public meetings of different political parties, polling stations and office of election commission during the 60-day-long election process, starting from 21st of March to 20th of May, 2013,” it stated.

The ANP, PPP, then-MQM and independent candidates were the main target of terrorists during the 2013 election campaign.

“There is no doubt that terrorist attacks increased by around 32pc during 2022 compared with 2021. However, the situation is much better than in 2008 and 2013.

Pakistani security forces are also better trained and equipped than they were in 2008 and 2013, the report added.

If terror trends of 2022 are compared with 2018 than more people were killed in terror attacks in 2018 than in 2022 as 579 people were killed and 960 injured in 2018 compared with 539 killed and 836 injured in 2022,“ it stated.