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Pakistan witnesses sharp increase in terrorist attacks since Taliban takeover

Islamabad—-The perils of Taliban-led regime in Kabul have become unmistakably clear for Pakistan as the country has witnessed an unbelievable 51 per cent increase in the number of terrorist attacks in a single year since the militant group seized power in August last year.

As many 433 people were killed and 719 wounded in 250 terrorist attacks in Pakistan between 15 August 2021 and 14 August 2022, according to details. In the corresponding year between15 August 2020 and 14 August 2021, the country witnessed 165 attacks that killed 294 people and injured 598 others.

These are some of the findings disseminated in the fifth issue of Islamabad-based Pak Institute of Peace Studies’ (PIPS) Paper Series released here on Wednesday. The purpose of this series of analytical papers is to expand the knowledge base and awareness of key stakeholders on Pakistan’s Afghan perspective, and its role and interest in Afghan peace and reconciliation.

“The mindless jubilation over Taliban victory is now turning into a rude shock because the evolving security situation under the erratic Taliban rule indicates Pakistan is about to face yet another ordeal viz-a-viz terrorism,” according to one of the findings.

The issue quoting a United Nations report says that there is no sign that the Taliban regime is taking steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist groups on Afghan soil.

The UN report also notes that foreign terrorist groups based in Afghanistan take the Taliban victory as a motivation to disseminate their propaganda in Central and South Asia, and globally.  Key terror outfits with active presence in Afghanistan include Al-Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K). So far, the Taliban have acted only against the IS-K because it actively challenges the group.

The issue underlines that there is a wave of fear and panic among residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) over the reported return of TTP militants from Afghanistan in recent months.

The publication quoting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that more than 300,000 Afghans have fled to Pakistan since the Taliban takeover. The figure confronts Pakistani authorities’ claim that about 60,000 to 70,000 Afghans have entered Pakistan since then.

The issue entails two papers which are expected to demonstrate an overall understanding of a variety of viewpoints and positions mainly around emerging events and developments in Afghanistan and their implications for Pakistan and the region. The first paper, by Ahmed Ali, evaluates the post-withdrawal militant landscape of Afghanistan and its implications for Pakistan including in terms of insecurity and terrorist violence. Apart from discussing state’s responses to counter extremism and terrorism, the paper provides a set of policy recommendations.

The second paper in the issue, by Urooj Jafri, discusses at length Pakistan’s challenges and policy responses in the face of Afghan refugees and border control. The author holds that with the latest developments following the Taliban’s return to power last year, Pakistan, like other countries in the region, has officially resisted accepting a new influx of refugees. Still, Pakistan has this opportunity to win hearts and minds of Afghan people with a sympathetic visa policy and facilitation of cross-border movement.