Militant attacks across Pakistan resulted in nearly 500 civilian and an equal number of security force fatalities in 2023, marking the country’s highest death toll in six years, according to a report released Sunday by the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS).
The report identified the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwestern Baluchistan provinces, both bordering Afghanistan, as epicenters for the majority of these terror attacks and casualties.
2023 was noted as the deadliest year in a decade for Pakistani police and military forces, with over 500 personnel lost to terrorist bombings and ambushes.
Groups such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), Baloch insurgents, and the regional Islamic State affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan, are often linked to or blamed for these acts of violence.
The Pakistani military reported at least 265 officer and soldier deaths in 2023 due to nationwide militant attacks and counterinsurgency operations. A notable attack in December on an army base in a northwestern district resulted in the deaths of at least 23 soldiers, the deadliest recent incident in the country.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police, in their annual report, cited militant attacks as the cause of death for 185 of their personnel. Baluchistan police also faced fatalities, though provincial authorities have not released official details.
Pakistan attributes the increase in cross-border terrorist attacks to TTP and other militants operating from sanctuaries in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021. Islamabad officials allege that Afghan fighters linked to the Taliban in Kabul have facilitated and participated in attacks against Pakistani forces and civilians.
The military reported a pre-dawn shooting from Afghanistan on a Pakistani border post in North Waziristan, resulting in one soldier’s death.
Pakistan has reiterated calls for the Taliban government to enforce effective border management and prevent the use of Afghan territory for terrorist activities against Pakistan, as per a recent military statement.
The United Nations has also reported the presence of thousands of TTP fighters in Afghanistan.
Taliban officials in Kabul have denied allegations of harboring terrorists or allowing their territory to be used for attacks against Pakistan or any other nation.