Pakistan is facing new challenges in the decades-long battle against terrorism and religious extremism within its borders as a new reports document what is characterized as an “alarming increase” of the Islamic State footprint.
This report cannot come at a worse time for the Pakistani government. They are already smarting from statements by President Donald Trump that they aren’t doing enough in the fight against terrorism within their borders and now this news has to be another headache for the Islamabad government.
The annual report, published by the independent Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, or PIPS, registered 370 terrorist attacks across Pakistan in 2017, including “suicide and gun-and-suicide coordinated” raids that killed 815 people and injured more than 1,700. The report, however, noted a 10 percent reduction in fatalities and a 16 percent decline in overall terrorist attacks.
The report said that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban, and its splinter factions were “still the most potent threat” and were behind 58 percent of the attacks. Nationalist insurgents active in southwestern Baluchistan province and sectarian groups are blamed for the rest of the attacks.
“What has been quite alarming is the increasing footprint of Daesh, especially in Baluchistan and Sindh [provinces],” according to the report, which used the Arabic acronym for IS. The terrorist group claimed six major attacks that last year killed 153 people, mostly civilians, it said. Two Chinese were also among the victims.
As US coalition forces supporting the Afghans are pushing IS forces out, they’re moving closer to the border region with Pakistan and the government is seeing an increase of IS or Daesh influence especially on educational campuses. There have been increases in self-radicalization and religious extremism along the border area as well.
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