by Zia Ur Rehman

Dec 5, 2011


KARACHI – The ability of Pakistani militants to target military installations has been diminished and their operational capacity badly degraded, a study released last month shows.

”]The study, conducted July through September by the Conflict Monitoring Centre (CMC), attributes the military’s improved security to the reduced number of attacks.

Militants, even though they want to inflict heavy losses on the military, carried out only one suicide attack against the troops in that quarter of 2011. On July 24 a suicide bomber tried to blow up an army check post in South Waziristan, but a soldier shot him to death, causing his suicide vest to explode. The explosion killed one soldier.

“The suicide attack … looks almost impossible to stop, but the Pakistani military has managed to safeguard its installations against suicide attacks during the first nine months of the year,” said Abdullah Khan, a security analyst and director of the CMC.

“Suicide attacks are of prime concern to military leadership as they create … depression among the affected people,” Khan told Central Asia Online. “The military has improved its security mechanism to prevent suicide attacks.”

During the first nine months of 2011, militants carried out 36 attacks in Pakistan, including four against military installations. Two of those four targets were “soft” – a recruitment centre and an army-run bakery, he said.

Most of those killed in the 12 suicide attacks – 123 of 158 dead – from July to September were civilians. The attacks injured 336 people, including 208 civilians, the study added. Four of the 12 incidents took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), three in Balochistan, four in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), while one occurred in Sindh.

In that period, two-thirds of suicide attacks occurred in public places, the CMC added.

“Worship places like mosques and shrines, hospitals, markets, hotels, bakeries or be it whatever public place; they do not hesitate to target them with whatever type of attack they like,” Khan said, adding that militants fabricate rationalisations to justify their crimes, inspired by the ideology of al-Qaeda’s Takfiri group’s ideology.

Central Asia Online earlier cited a study finding that Taliban militants hit 54 Pakistani places of worship in the past 10 years, killing 1,165 worshippers and injuring about 2,900.

Insurgents desperate :

Growing numbers of suicide attacks on public places are a result of the militants’ desperation and inability to hit security forces, Khan said.

The study also found that Osama bin Laden’s May 2 death failed to raise the intensity of suicide attacks, which media and security circles had feared could happen. The data indicate that Al-Qaeda’s capacities in Pakistan have diminished drastically, Khan argued.

Pakistani troops and law enforcement agencies stepped up protection of airports, prominent individuals and the general public after bin Laden’s death, playing a part in suppressing the violence. A combination of military operations, effective intelligence gathering and planning in Swat and South Waziristan badly damaged the command-and-control network and capabilities of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the study found.

Committed to fighting militants :

The killing of TTP commander Qari Hussain in an October 2010 air strike that badly weakened the TTP since he trained suicide bombers as was a master planner of attacks, the study stated, adding that Pakistani security forces have killed many top TTP leaders in military operations.

“The TTP is now led by Hakeemullah Mehsud, who is relatively young and doesn’t possess any significant experience of guerrilla war,” Khan said, adding the military has kept Mehsud and his lieutenants too busy running for their lives to plot effectively.

Taliban militants are on the run because they have suffered major damage recently, KP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said.

“But security forces and the government will chase them until the end,” Iftikhar said, adding that those killing the innocent have no religion, nation or ideology.

“The blood of martyrs will not go in vain,” Iftikhar told Central Asia Online, “We will eliminate the already fleeing militants, and will restore durable peace in the region.”