Pakistan security forces suffer highest casualty rate in eight years, report reveals

More than one third of deaths linked to violence since January in the country have involved security personnel

Pakistani security personnel guard a checkpoint in Quetta, Balochistan, after a blast in Mastung district that killed dozens of people. EPA
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A total of 386 personnel from Pakistan's security forces lost their lives in the first nine months of this year, the highest number of deaths in eight years, a report by the Pakistani think tank Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) has found.

The report said security personnel accounted for 36 per cent of the 1,087 deaths resulting from violence in the nine-month period. They include 137 members of the Pakistan Army and 208 police officers.

The years 2015 and 2016 were previously considered to be the deadliest for Pakistan's security personnel, with 339 and 293 deaths respectively.

The report said Pakistan was grappling with “proxy terrorism” that was primarily affecting the regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. In 2019, the two provinces accounted for 72 per cent of deaths due to violence. However, this figure has surged to nearly 92 per cent for the first nine months of 2023.

As many as 60 people lost their lives in a suicide bombing at an event commemorating the birth anniversary of the Prophet Mohammed in Balochistan's Mastung district on Friday.

On the same day, five people were killed and more than 10 were wounded in another attack by two suicide bombers at a police station mosque in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu district. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, security officials suspect the involvement of ISIS, which has launched similar attacks in the past.

This escalation in violence in Pakistan can be attributed to two primary factors: the Afghan Taliban’s return to power in Kabul in the year 2021 and the collapse of a ceasefire agreement between the government and the banned Tahrik-e-Taliban (TTP) last November.

Before the collapse of talks between the Pakistani government and the proscribed group last year, thousands of TTP members had already moved from their sanctuaries in Afghanistan into Pakistan, a development considered to be one of the reasons behind the increasing rate of militant attacks in the country.

The TTP on Sunday claimed responsibility for an attack on a police post in Punjab that killed one officer and injured three others.

The attack occurred in the Easa Khel area of Mianwali district, close to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a spokesman for the Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department said.

Liaqat Ali said a group of 10 to 12 militants attacked the Kundal police post after midnight. A subsequent exchange of gunfire continued for hours, in which two of the attackers were killed and a third was wounded but escaped with the others, he said.

Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Asim Munir, who visited Balochistan's main city of Quetta on September 30 after the Mastung attack, said terrorism was being sponsored by external state actors and there would be no let-up in operations against terrorists.

Updated: October 02, 2023, 1:21 PM