THE statistics are numbing and mind-boggling and should make any Pakistani sit up: in 2008 the country saw 2,148 terrorist attacks, which caused 6,825 casualties — 2,267 of them fatal.
Suicide attacks alone killed nearly 1,000 people — 967 to be precise — and wounded or maimed for life over 2,000. Of the 63 suicide attacks countrywide, the highest — 32 — occurred in the NWFP, killing and wounding over 1,000 Pakistanis; 10 in Punjab (201, dead, 580 injured), and 16 in Fata (263 dead, 497 injured).
Compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, these statistics do not include those who fell in ‘operational attacks’. According to the think-tanks’ report for 2008, more than 5,500 people were killed or injured in operational attacks (a minimum of 3,182 dead and 2,267 wounded).
What is scary is the steady rise over the years in the number of terrorist attacks and the consequent increase in casualties. In 2006, terrorist attacks left 907 dead and 1,543 injured; in 2007 there was a quantum jump in the figure for the dead — 3,448.
If to those killed in acts of terrorism we add those who died in operational attacks, sectarian and factional clashes and US drone attacks, the total number of civilians and security personnel killed in 2008 comes to a morbid 8,000, with the number of the injured approaching 10,000. The grand total for 2008, thus, comes to 18,000 Pakistani people getting killed or injured in acts of political violence.
Is the world aware of this Pakistani trauma? Going by the doubts cast on our commitment to fight terrorism and the ‘do more’ litany one doubts if we have been able to inform the world what this country and its people have been going through for years. In fact, it appears as if, barring US Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Richard Lugar in America and Foreign Secretary David Miliband in Britain, very few top personalities in the policymaking apparatus in the western world seem to be aware of Pakistan’s plight and the scourge which terrorism has become for us Pakistanis in our daily lives.
Our post-Mumbai diplomatic effort has not been all disaster. It did indeed succeed in convincing the world diplomatic community that Islamabad was not involved in the Mumbai crime. However, Pakistan’s advocacy of its case was characterised by diffidence. It failed to show our justifiable anger over India’s attempt to obfuscate the issue, and often we appeared to be pleading rather than telling.
Has India suffered anything even remotely resembling Pakistan’s trauma as seen in the cold statistics above? The answer is no, but the world evidently doesn’t think so. What the world does is to view the situation in terms of the ‘safe haven’ which is supposed to exist in Fata and elsewhere for the Taliban. That deprives us of the sympathy we deserve.
Read full opinion at DAWN - Opinion; January 26, 2009