CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
Judicial commission report into Aug Quetta hospital attack that killed 74 people released 15 Dec, highlighting interior ministry’s inaction over banned extremist groups and criticising Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar for meeting leaders of groups and allowing them to hold public meetings. Report also denounced military and civilian intelligence agencies for lack of transparency and accountability. Recommendations include reform of anti-terrorism National Action Plan (NAP); ban on all terror groups and database; and registration of all educational institutions including madrasas. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPs called for dismissal of Nisar for failing to implement NAP; Nisar called report “one-sided”. Extremist organisation attacks continued particularly in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK), including senior counter-terrorism police officer killed by unidentified militants 10 Dec in Peshawar. Govt operations against Taliban continued: 4 Dec airstrike in FATA killed at least twelve suspected Taliban; 5 Dec operation in Balochistan’s Pishin district killed five, including alleged mastermind of Quetta hospital attack. Police failed to prevent 12 Dec mob attack on Ahmadiyya sect mosque in Chakwal, N Punjab, despite prior warning. New army chief General Bajwa reconstituted country’s high command and voiced intention to retain military’s control over internal security policy. Supreme Court 9 Dec adjourned hearings until early Jan on investigating charges against PM Sharif’s off-shore holdings disclosed in Panama Papers leak. Opposition-controlled Senate 15 Dec passed PPP-sponsored bill for parliamentary investigation into Panama Papers; regarded as unlikely to pass in Sharif-controlled National Assembly.
Suicide attack on Sufi shrine in Balochistan’s Khuzdar district 12 Nov left at least 52 dead, over 100 wounded. Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility; Balochistan Home Minister refuted IS claim, alleging instead that Sunni extremist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Al-Alami was responsible for attack; also suggested Indian involvement. LeJ Al-Alami did not confirm or deny involvement in attack, but said it was cooperating with IS. Following 29 Oct attack on Shia gathering in Karachi that left five dead, series of possibly retaliatory sectarian attacks throughout Karachi 4 Nov killed six, including members of Deobandi and anti-Shia Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, the banned and renamed Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). Sporadic violence in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) left several dead, including one soldier killed 7 Nov in landmine blast in Khyber Agency’s Tirah Valley and soldier killed 1 Nov in bombing during search operation in Wana marketplace, S Waziristan. Military 4 Nov reportedly destroyed market building in Wana. PM Sharif 26 Nov appointed Qamar Javed Bajwa to replace outgoing Army chief Raheel Sharif, superseding four senior generals; Bajwa took over army command 29 Nov.
Security in Balochistan capital Quetta remained fragile. Three armed militants 25 Oct stormed Quetta police college, killing 61, mostly cadets, and injuring at least 170. Security forces killed one attacker; remaining two died after detonating suicide vests. Islamic State (IS) and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) both claimed responsibility; Pakistani officials reported evidence that sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) was behind attack with possible support from Afghanistan. Also in Quetta, four Hazara women killed on public bus 4 Oct in apparent sectarian attack. Banned separatist group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for 7 Oct Quetta-Rawalpindi train bombing that left at least four dead and seventeen injured in Balochistan’s Bolan district. Alleged LeJ bomb attack 17 Oct left teenage boy dead and fifteen others wounded at Shia mosque in Karachi. Interior ministry same day formally extended special policing mandate of paramilitary Rangers in Karachi. Supreme Court 20 Oct opened hearings on petitions to disqualify PM Sharif based on allegations of undisclosed offshore business holdings leaked in Panama Papers. Opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan 17 Oct announced plans to “shut down” federal capital 2 Nov to pressure govt for accountability. Amid clashes between opposition and police in and nearby Islamabad and Punjab late month, at least 1,500 opposition supporters arrested by 31 Oct; Amnesty International 31 Oct called on govt to end “repressive crackdown”. Khan 1 Nov called off protest after Supreme Court said it would form judicial commission to investigate Panama Papers findings that could implicate PM. Parliament 6 Oct passed major bills, imposing mandatory 25-year sentence for individuals convicted of so-called “honour killings” and removing legal loophole allowing victim’s family to pardon murderer.
Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for series of attacks throughout month, including: suicide bomb at mosque in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) 16 Sept killed at least 36, mostly teenagers; suicide bomb at courthouse in Mardan district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) 2 Sept killed thirteen; attack on Christian neighbourhood in Peshawar same day killed one security guard. Both Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Islamic State’s Amaq news agency claimed responsibility for 18 Sept attack on army van in Peshawar, in which three army personnel were killed. Two separate bombings 12 and 13 Sept in Quetta left two Balochistan Constabulary personnel and two police officers dead; both Jamaat-ul-Ahra and TTP main faction claimed responsibility. Joint Afghan-NATO airstrikes 25 Sept reportedly killed fourth-highest ranking TTP commander Azam Tariq, along with at least nine other alleged militants in Afghanistan’s Paktika province. Afghan ambassador next day confirmed Tariq’s death. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) 2 Sept submitted resolution in National Assembly condemning self-exiled MQM founder Altaf Hussain’s 22 Aug remark that “Pakistan is a cancer” and “epicentre of terrorism for the entire world”. MQM leaders 21 Sept called for treason proceedings against Hussain in Sindh Assembly, calling him traitor to Pakistan. Police 16 Sept arrested MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan, releasing him several hours later after Sindh Chief Minister and PM Sharif condemned arrest. MQM chief Farooq Sattar said police failed to present warrant or reason for arrest. Members of U.S. Congress 20 Sept introduced draft legislation that would require report from White House and state department on why Pakistan should not be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law. In first video statement in five years, leader of Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) armed group 30 Sept said group is planning further attacks on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
In largest attack since March Lahore bombing, suicide bomb at Quetta Civil hospital 8 Aug killed over 70 people, mostly lawyers gathered at hospital to mourn 7 Aug killing of Balochistan Bar Association President Bilal Anwar Kasi; reportedly country’s worst attack ever targeting civil society. Pakistan Bar Council 9 Aug called for nationwide strike by lawyers demanding additional security; strikes and protests by lawyers continued throughout month. Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Islamic State (IS) both claimed responsibility for attack; Balochistan chief minister accused Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of coordinating attack. Military also suggested Indian involvement, calling attack “attempt to undermine CPEC [China Pakistan Economic Corridor]”, PM Sharif 8 Aug echoed concerns that “enemies of Pakistan are after CPEC”. No concrete evidence of RAW involvement found. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah 1 Aug authorised extension of Rangers’ policing authority for another 90 days, limited to Karachi. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders 6 Aug concluded two-day hunger strike, criticised Rangers’ continued detention of party’s mayoral candidate Waseem Akhtar. MQM worker Mohammad Waheed died 7 Aug allegedly from torture sustained during imprisonment Chief Minister Shah 18 Aug ordered release of six MQM activists, reportedly warning Rangers against detaining innocent people. Civilian and military leadership 11 Aug agreed to establish “high-level task force” to oversee implementation of 2015 National Action Plan (NAP) on terrorism; General Raheel Sharif 12 Aug said lack of progress on NAP was “affecting the consolidation phase” of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in N Waziristan. PM Sharif 15 Aug approved creation of additional Frontier Corps units in KPK to manage cross-border security. Military 16 Aug launched Operation Khyber-3 in Rajgal Valley near Pakistan-Afghanistan border; Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) 22 Aug said security forces had killed 40 militants, destroyed 43 hideouts since launch. U.S. Congress 3 Aug rejected release of $300m in Coalition Support Funds (CSF) reimbursements to Pakistani military after U.S. Sec Defense Ashton Carter declined to certify that Pakistan had taken “sufficient action” against Haqqani Network.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader 10 July called for accountability in alleged extrajudicial killing after body of MQM activist Riazul Haq, detained by paramilitary Rangers in May, found in Karachi 30 June. Rangers-led security operation escalated following drive-by shooting of prominent singer late June claimed by Pakistani Taliban faction. Police 19 July arrested senior MQM members, including Karachi mayor-elect, in connection with investigations into links with militants after anti-terrorism court rejected their applications for pre-arrest bail. Head of Sindh Rangers 16 July reportedly issued ultimatum to Sindh chief minister that Sindh home minister surrender his brother and alleged associate, arguing that Rangers’ policing powers applied only to Karachi, not Larkana. Military 19 July announced Sindh chief justice’s kidnapped son freed during operation in KPK’s Tank district. U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan’ Nangarhar province killed Pakistani Taliban (TTP) faction commander Umar Mansoor, suspected mastermind of Dec 2014 Peshawar school attack. Several civilians and security personnel killed in attacks in Balochistan late June-July, including three security personnel killed 2 July in two attacks in Mastung district. Roadside bomb 18 July killed seven in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK)’s Upper Dir district. Seven alleged TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militants reportedly killed 31 July in clash with counter-terrorism forces west of Lahore. Following murder of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch by her brother 15 July in so-called “honour killing”, officials barred family from pardoning killer; independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated over 1,ooo women killed in “honour killings” in 2015.
Army chief Raheel Sharif 2 June said Zarb-e-Azb anti-militant operation in N Waziristan successfully entering final phases; another military official said operation’s completion will be announced before end of Sharif’s tenure in Nov. Attacks and clashes between alleged Baloch insurgents and security forces continued. Bomb blast in Balochistan province’s Quetta 24 June killed at least three, injured 32. Principal of University of Balochistan’s law college killed 8 June in drive-by shooting in Quetta. Paramilitary Rangers 7 June blocked streets around senior Muttahid Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar’s home in Karachi; fellow MQM leader described incident as attempt to compel MQM leadership to switch loyalties from MQM to other movements. Karachi police 15 June registered case against MQM media head for spreading “propaganda” against Rangers. Son of Sindh High Court chief justice kidnapped 20 June in Karachi. Security officials reportedly expressed concern that al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) branch reestablishing itself in Karachi. President Manmoon Hussain 8 June signed constitutional amendment allowing appointment of non-judicial officials to Election Commission (ECP), providing opportunity for more representative ECP leadership. U.S. State Dept 2 June confirmed sale of F-16s to Pakistan no longer viable after offer, which was approved in Feb, expired 24 May.
Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour killed in U.S. drone strike near Afghan border 21 May (see Afghanistan); Pakistani interior minister said strike against international law, U.S. said its rules of engagement allow defensive strikes against threats to U.S. and coalition personnel. Worker from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political party died in paramilitary Rangers’ custody 3 May showing signs of torture, two days after being arrested; army chief Raheel Sharif ordered inquiry, Sindh Rangers director reportedly admitted torture took place, denied it was cause of death. MQM 2 May submitted list to Supreme Court naming 171 party members detained without charges. Sindh Chief Minister 4 May extended Rangers’ policing power for 77 days. Also in Karachi: civil society activist and blogger Khurram Zaki shot dead 7 May in suspected extremist killing. Eleven injured 12 May in clashes between MQM and its breakaway Pakistan Sarzameen Party faction in Hyderabad. Amid continued insurgent violence in Balochistan, Pakistani Taliban (TTP)-claimed bomb outside Quetta’s Balochistan University 10 May which killed two police. Police 5 May killed eight militants in Punjab’s Sheikhupura district, 10 May arrested five TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in Bahawalpur district. Son of ex-PM Yusuf Raza Gilani, abducted 2013, freed 9 May from al-Qaeda hideout in Afghanistan by U.S. and Afghan forces. Security forces 8 May arrested Afghan Border Security official in Pishin on spying charges. Opposition 4 May demanded inquiry into offshore holdings of PM Sharif’s family; Senate 20 May approved PM’s proposal to form committee to finalise terms of reference for establishing judicial commission.
Punjab police 9 April launched security operation against Chotoo criminal gang in southern Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan districts; gang 13 April killed six police, took 24 hostage. Military 16 April announced it had taken over operation, launched airstrikes; gang leader and twelve others surrendered 20 April, released hostages. Belying official claims of success of ongoing paramilitary-led Rangers operation in Karachi, seven police protecting polio workers shot dead in two attacks in city 20 April; five people also killed early April in drive-by shootings. Two police, two Lashkar-e-Jhangvi killed 2 April in Karachi police raid. Four killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including one police 7 April in unclaimed IED blast, Awami National Party leader 10 April in Pakistani Taliban attack, one police 12 April in unclaimed shooting. In other militant attacks, bomb 5 April derailed Lahore-Quetta train, killing one; guard of Bilal Afridi, leader of pro-govt armed group in Khyber Agency, killed 18 April intercepting suicide attack. Security forces reportedly killed 34 members of United Baloch Army 9 April in Kalat district. Frontier Corps 6 April announced arrest of alleged Afghan intelligence operative in Balochistan. Leaked records of offshore holdings implicating over 200 nationals including family of PM Sharif early April further undermined legitimacy of govt.
Over 70 people killed and at least 300 injured in suicide bomb attack on park in Lahore 27 March; victims included many families celebrating Easter. Attack claimed by Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA) which said it was targeting Christians. Amid criticism of inadequate security, PM Sharif called for better coordination on part of security services against terrorism; military and intelligence agencies conducted raids following attacks, killing five suspects and arresting more than 600. Violent protests against execution of Mumtaz Qadri, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer’s murderer, in Islamabad, with thousands of Islamist activists besieging parliament and destroying public property, ended 30 March with govt reportedly agreeing not to amend blasphemy law, to show no leniency to those imprisoned on blasphemy charges, and to release non-violent demonstrators. At least 31 killed in insurgent attacks throughout month, including in Peshawar, Mohmand Agency and Sibi districts. Dozens of suspected insurgents also killed by security forces during month, including in N Waziristan, Karachi, Punjab and Balochistan. Security forces 10 March reportedly arrested fourteen members of Afghan Taliban near Quetta. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar 2 March ordered investigation into allegations that Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party received Indian funding and weapons; former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal next day accused MQM party leader of ties with Indian intelligence. Supreme Court 11 March rejected request by paramilitary Rangers to establish separate police structure and one year extension of special policing powers in Sindh province.
Continued attacks against security personnel raised concerns that extremist outfits have regrouped and operating freely; govt early Feb said terrorists being funded externally by “hostile intelligence agencies” to foment instability. Intelligence Bureau head 11 Feb said Pakistani Taliban (TTP) has ties with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) extremist groups and is coordinating with Islamic State (IS), which is growing in country; Foreign Ministry and Interior Minister denied, said IS has no organised presence in Pakistan. Army 12 Feb reported arrest of 97 suspected al-Qaeda and LeJ militants in Karachi. Attacks in Balochistan included eleven killed 6 Feb in TTP-claimed suicide bombing near military convoy in Quetta; ten members of Balochistan Liberation Army reported killed, twelve arrested 14 Feb in Sibi district raid. U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan’s Paktika province 1 Feb reportedly killed eighteen TTP militants. In Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), TTP’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction claimed responsibility for two attacks in Mohmand Agency 18 Feb, nine tribal police killed. In other militant attacks, Awami National Party Swabi district councillor and her two children killed in Peshawar 10 Feb, TTP suspected; three police killed 10-12 Feb in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Former Afghan governor Fazlullah Wahidi kidnapped 12 Feb in Islamabad, later freed by police; policeman killed at routine checkpoint search 12 Feb. Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department 17 Feb reported seven suspected TTP and LeJ militants killed in Sheikhupura district; polio worker wounded, two police killed same day in two attacks in Lahore. Country-wide protests 29 Feb following execution of Mumtaz Qadri for 2011 murder of Punjab governor Salman Taseer. International Federation of Journalists reported Pakistan fourth deadliest country in world for journalists in 2015.
Deadly attack on Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KPK)’s Charsadda district 20 Jan killed at least twenty including fourteen students, faculty member, librarian, two security guards, driver. Four attackers killed in clashes with security forces; Pakistani Taliban (TTP) denied involvement, however TTP faction commander Umar Mansoor, alleged by some to have masterminded Dec 2014 Peshawar school attack, claimed credit, his group threatened further attacks on schools. Five arrested 23 Jan charged with aiding militants. Dozens killed in terrorist attacks during month, including eleven killed by suicide bomber at market near police checkpoint in Peshawar 19 Jan. Anti-terrorism court 11 Jan issued arrest warrants for Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Hussain and twenty others for “criminal conspiracy against the state” over their criticisms of paramilitary Rangers’ activities in Karachi. Violence continued in Balochistan, several security personnel killed in attacks. Seventeen killed including twelve police in suicide attack outside polio vaccination centre in Quetta 13 Jan; TTP and Jundullah both claimed responsibility. Punjab law minister 3 Jan announced 42 arrested for alleged Islamic State (IS) links. Nearly 80 militants reportedly surrendered to govt forces in N Waziristan region 15 Jan. Reviewing implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism, interior minister 30 Dec said govt efforts had significantly improved security, conceded banned extremist groups re-emerging under new name; acknowledged limited progress on reforming status of FATA, finding solutions to Afghan refugee presence, strengthening criminal justice system.