Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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The silent war in Pakistan

Photo: Kamila Hyat/IRIN

20 February 2014 - 5,379 people in Pakistan lost their lives in terrorist-related incidents in 2013. The majority, 3,001, were civilians.

The number has escalated sharply since 2005, and reached a peak in 2009 when 11,704 people were killed - mainly during a military operation against militants in the Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. The violence continues to be widespread - even considered normal - with 460 killed already this year.

While the conflict against the Taliban is possibly the best known issue involving violence in Pakistan, there are many other pieces making up a larger and more complex picture.

“For people like us, the ongoing violence, the terrorist attacks and then the military reprisals are a disaster,” said Saifullah Khan, a resident of Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, one of seven tribal agencies along the Pakistan-Afghan border. “We live in constant fear, people have lost jobs because businesses have shut down, and so many people I know have moved away permanently.

“Of course there is a war here. People die in bomb attacks, families have been destroyed and children know only of guns,” he told IRIN News. He also spoke of farmers, whose lands had been destroyed, leaving them with no means to earn a living.

According to a 2014 report by the Washington-based US Institute of Peace Studies, “during the past decade violence has become endemic across many parts of Pakistan.”

The detailed study notes the “origins and intensity” of violence varies by region. Other than the concentrated violence along the Afghan border driven by militancy, it describes growing sectarian violence in Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan, caused partially as a result of a “nexus between sectarian militants and terrorist outfits”.

Figures from the Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies’ (CRSS) Pakistan Conflict Tracker, which differ slightly from the South Asia Terrorism Portal, suggest 2013 was one of the deadliest on record, with nearly 6,000 people killed in militant, sectarian, terrorist and politically-motivated attacks.

“The state’s callous indifference towards the loss of human lives in a bomb explosion here and a suicide attack there virtually every other day is only matched by a state of resignation among its people, who seem to treat it as fait accompli,” said Kamran Rehmat, a former newspaper editor and political analyst.

Most people feel they have no choice but to simply carry on. “I lost my son, daughter-in-law and grandson in the 2009 blast which killed nearly 100 in Peshawar in 2009. At the age of 80, I work as a labourer to support my other grandchildren. I have banned all family members from going to cinemas after recent blasts there. But beyond this, what can one do?” asked Azeem Khan.

“We are helpless, but what choice do we have but to carry on till someone takes pity on us.”

Read the full story at IRIN News

UNRIC's related links:

United Nations in Pakistan: http://www.un.org.pk/

Implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia
http://www.un.org/en/terrorism/ctitf/proj_centralasia.shtml

 

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