January 12, 2022 | Marco Respinti | Bitter Winter

On January 5, 2022, the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PICS), a leading Pakistani think tank including prominent academics and journalists, released its yearly report on security for the year 2021.

The section on terrorism noted that ethno-nationalist and religiously motivated terrorist attacks increased by 42% in 2021 with respect to 2020, and the number of victims increased by 52%, the worst such surge in the last 15 years.

207 attacks took 335 lives, and left another 555 wounded. The surge is mostly due to “religiously inspired militant groups,” the report says, singling out “Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), local Taliban groups, and Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K)” as the worst perpetrators. The developments in Afghanistan also made the situation in Pakistan worse.

More generally, as discussed in a press conference on January 5, violent religious extremist groups are at work in all provinces in Pakistan. The PICS noted in particular the activities of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a large Sufi but violent organization to which Bitter Winter devoted a series of articles.

Against the “growing incidents of faith-based mob violence,” targeting in particular religious minorities harassed by different violent Islamic laws, the PICS believes that existing laws are not sufficient. It urged the Parliament to take action, enact new laws, and use the National Action Plan (NAP) as a tool against religious extremism and violence.

The PICS also recommended to strengthen the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA).