After the operation undertaken by the security forces in Malakand, radical changes were evident in the strategy adopted by the militants and the targets they chose. In the earlier phase, they had targeted mainly law enforcement and security agencies but after that operation, their sphere of operations widened. Similarly, the battleground has also expanded from just the tribal areas earlier to now the settled areas.
Despite the efforts on part of the country’s law enforcement and security, the havoc wreaked by these groups and organisations has not been brought under control. Yet success has been seen from time to time. For instance, last year saw a 27 per cent decline in suicide attacks as compared to 2011; according to a recent report by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, there were 33 suicide attacks in 2012 as compared to 45 the year before.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa faced the brunt of the violence with 54 per cent of the attacks. Even so, last year’s statistics show an 11 per cent decline in incidents there.
Nevertheless, there have been a series of attacks, including those on Bannu Jail, the Mehran airbase and others, that indicate that the perpetrators are moving from micro to macro targets. At such attacks, they have tried to create hostage situations and in response, the law enforcement personnel have had little choice but to kill the perpetrators. Making arrests is a remote possibility in such situations, which adds another challenge: it becomes doubly difficult for investigators to trace the planners, facilitators and...