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EditorialHit militants wherever they are

Hit militants wherever they are

Ever since the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ended its ceasefire with the government, attacks throughout the country have risen. The main target has been the security personnel. Various think tanks that keep a record of militant activities and casualties have recorded an upsurge in attacks and fatalities. A recent report prepared by a think-tank, the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), showed a drastic increase in the number of casualties as a result of militant attacks and counterterrorism operations in the first quarter of the current year.

It reported that as many as 854 people were killed or injured in the period under consideration. According to details, 358 people lost their lives and 496 were injured in 219 terrorist attacks and counterterrorism operations during the January-March period. As many as 245 people died in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone, which was 68 percent of the total death toll. This was followed by Balochistan, where the number of deaths was 64, which was calculated at 18%.

January remained one of the deadliest months since July 2018, with 134 people losing their lives and 254 getting injured in about 44 terrorist attacks across the country. According to the CRSS report, January also proved fatal for security forces, with the death toll recorded at 111. This was the second-highest number of fatalities among security personnel in a single month, second only to July 2014, which recorded 118 deaths.

There was an uptick in the casualty number among security and government officials, with 167 deaths recorded in the first quarter of this year compared to 88 deaths reported in the same period last year.

However, the report said, the number of civilian deaths dropped in the given period. As per data, the number of civilians who died in the attacks was 63, which was half the figure compared to 136 last year.

According to statistics released by another think tank, the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained one of the worst areas. Recently, the top military authorities reviewed the anti-terror strategy, calling for a collective approach that involved the entire nation and the government to eradicate terrorism. It has been seen lately that intelligence-based operations against militants have increased. The overall security environment was reviewed at the 257th core commanders conference, which was presided over by Army Chief of Staff Gen Asim Munir.

The conference highlighted the need to adopt a “whole-of-the-nation and whole-of-the-government approach to eradicate the menace of terrorism on a  long-term basis”. In a recent interview, Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif said Afghan oil was still being used by the militants to attack Pakistani territory, and warned that if the Afghan authorities did not act, Pakistan would be compelled to target the militants in Afghanistan. This was the message Islamabad should have given long ago.

Pakistan has been bearing the brunt of militant attacks, while the Afghan government is looking the other way. There is a need to launch another operation and clear our territory of militants. And if required, precision attacks against TTP operatives in Afghanistan should be carried out. Our authorities should remember that nothing is more important than the lives of our citizens and our security personnel.

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