Elimination of Malik Ishaq no fatal blow to sectarian killings

Malik Ishaq

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Although elimination of Malik Ishaq, chief of his own major faction of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in a ‘police encounter’ in Muzaffargarh district of Punjab on late Tuesday is being seen as a serious blow to sectarian outfits, a recent study shows the group only claimed 14% of the total sectarian killings carried out in the country, and numerous groups responsible for similar attacks are still ‘on the run’.

Ishaq was killed when along with his two sons was being taken by counter terrorism department (CTD) officials to Muzaffargarh for identification of detained men on suspicion of being members of Ishaq’s group. On the way, in a bid to release the LeJ chief, a group of men on motorcycles ambushed the convoy near Shahwala Jungle, and as a result, in the exchange of fire, 14 suspected militants, including the group’s chief were killed.

Ishaq’s second-in-command, Ghulam Rasool and other top leaders were also slain in the shootout, a Punjab Home Ministry spokesperson told media.

The killing is being seen as a step towards the end of killings based on sectarian motives; however, according to the CRSS Security Report Jundullah, another terrorist organisation, is responsible for most of the sectarian killings in Pakistan. It has claimed 23 per cent of sectarian killings in the country.

The second highest number of sectarian attacks in Pakistan was claimed by the Jundul Hafsa group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), killings 83 people of rival sects. Similarly, the TTP Ansarul Islam claimed killing 60 people with sectarian motives, attaining the third position.

According to the report, the LeJ claimed responsibility of 53 killings – just 14 per cent of the total 366 sectarian murders – and that too before the start of Zarb-e-Azb operation, the military offensive against militants in FATA and other areas in Pakistan.

Other prominent claimants of the sectarian killings include Da’ish or the Islamic State (IS) and TTP-Jamaat-al-Ahrar. Both the outfits claimed 45 and 26 murders, respectively.

During the first two quarters of the current year, TTP-JA claimed killing 26, Jundullah 82, Jundullah/IS 45, whereas three killings out of the total 156 sectarian deaths were claimed by other groups.

The data shows 85 casualties, including 64 fatalities and 21 injuries, during the last three months, May-July 2015. May remained the worst with 72 attacks, almost 85 per cent of the total during the period.

Comparative analysis of killings in general

A comparative analysis of sectarian of the killings in 2014 and first six months of the current year shows Punjab, FATA and Gilgit Baltistan controlled the menace as not even a single killing was reported in the respective administrative units.

In Sindh, 79 casualties, including 72 fatalities and seven injuries were reported in 2014, whereas 48 per cent of the victims belonged to this region in 2015. This mostly included victims of Safoora carnage, when over 40 Ismaili Shias were gunned down in Karachi. .

In Balochistan, 14 killings with 10 injuries have been reported so far against 34 fatalities and 25 injuries in 2014, making it the region with second highest number of killings of sectarian nature.

Meanwhile, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has also performed well in controlling the killings – only one person was killed on the basis of one’s sect in 2015 as compared to eight murders and 12 injuries on the same grounds in 2014.

In total, 270 casualties, including 129 killings 141 injuries were reported in 2014 whereas 64 persons were killed and 21 wounded until 2015. This includes 104 and 18 Shia killings in 2014 and first six months of 2015.

Meanwhile, at least 16 of those killed so far in 2015 belonged to the Christian faith, 11 were Sunni Muslims, three Bohras and 47 Ismaili Muslims. Identity of 13 is unknown.

The report adds that despite a considerable improvement in the security situation of the country, and a significant reduction in number of killings in all forms of violence; religiously-driven militancy and politically patronised criminal syndicates remain the most formidable challenges for the security agencies.

“As the terrorists – most of whom are inspired either by local or external drivers as ploys of instability – are feeling the heat and are resorting to new tactics; picking up new targets through different tactics, followed by claims of responsibility by more than one groups” the report says.

Appeared in The Frontier Post – Peshawar originally


Author: Naimat

Karachi based journalist, writing on national and international issues.

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