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SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 15, No. 35, February 27, 2017

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal


ASSESSMENT

PAKISTAN
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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Perishable Peace
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Three Shia’s were shot dead by unidentified assailants in a suspected sectarian attack under the Paroa Police Station area of Dera Ismail Khan District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on February 26, 2017.

On February 21, 2017, at least seven persons, including a lawyer and an eight-year-old boy, were killed and as many as 25 were injured when three terrorists wearing suicide vests attacked the Session’s Court in Tangi tehsil (revenue unit) of Charsadda District. The attack started at around 11:40am when three suicide bombers opened indiscriminate fire, using automatic weapons and hurled grenades at the security officials, in an attempt to enter the Court. Policemen stationed on the premises sought to repulse their attack, gunning down two attackers, while the third blew himself up after failing to enter the building. Charsadda Assistant Commissioner Inayatullah Khan disclosed that the injured included six Policemen who confronted the terrorists in a gun battle that lasted for at least 14 minutes.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), an offshoot of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack and declared that it was a continuation of Operation Ghazi, which they had initiated against Pakistan. The group released details of two of the attackers – Abdul Basit of Mohmand Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khairullah of the Kunduz Province of Afghanistan. The JuA was also responsible for the March 6, 2016, suicide attack on the Shabqadar Sessions Court in the same Charsadda District, in which 17 persons were killed and 30 sustained injuries.

On February 16, 2017, four Policemen and a passerby were killed when the Police vehicle was attacked by unidentified motorcycle borne terrorists in the Mission Mor area of Dera Ismail Khan town in KP. The victims were identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector Rehmatullah, Constable Iqbal, Constable Irshad and the civilian, Fazal. The driver of the vehicle sustained serious bullet wounds and was rushed to hospital by rescue officials, but later succumbed to his injuries.

On February 15, 2017, the driver of the civil judge’s vehicle was killed when a motorcycle borne suicide bomber rammed into the vehicle in the Hayatabad area of Peshawar, the provincial capital of KP. Civil Judge Asif Jadoon and three female judges of the lower judiciary were travelling in the official car in the Phase 5 area when the attacker struck the front of the vehicle and exploded, killing the driver and injuring the four judges. A total of six persons were injured in the explosion. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

The latest series of attacks on law enforcement agencies and the judiciary within a span of seven days shattered the weak ray of hope for peace in the province, which appeared in 2016 after a decade of sustained violence. The South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database recorded the lowest ever fatalities in a decade in KP, at 213 – including 123 civilians, 50 SFs and 40 terrorists – in 2016, in comparison to 268 such fatalities in 2015 – including 117 civilians, 76 SF personnel and 75 terrorists. While the overall fatalities recorded a 20.52 per cent decrease in 2016 in comparison to the previous year, SF and terrorist/organised crime categories had seen a 34.21 and 46.66 per cent decline, respectively. However, reversing the trend, civilian fatalities registered a small rise of 5.12 per cent. KP recorded a peak of 5,497 fatalities in 2009.

Fatalities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 2005-2017

Years
Civilians
SFs
Terrorists
Total
2005
2
0
2
4
2006
60
13
27
100
2007
393
221
372
986
2008
868
255
1078
2201
2009
1229
471
3797
5497
2010
607
96
509
1212
2011
511
331
364
1206
2012
363
98
195
656
2013
603
172
161
936
2014
406
108
103
617
2015
117
76
75
268
2016
123
50
40
213
2017
14
4
11
29
Total*
5296
1895
6734
1395
Source: SATP, *Data till February 26, 2017

The Province had also registered declines in other parameters of violence. There were 17 major attacks (each resulting in three or more fatalities) causing 121 deaths in 2016; as against 19 major attacks accounting for 133 deaths in 2015. The most prominent attacks in 2016 occurred on January 20, when TTP terrorists stormed the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda District, killing at least 21 persons and causing injuries to another 35. The mastermind of the APS Peshawar attack, Khalifa Umar Mansoor aka Aurangzeb, of TTP’s Geedar faction, claimed the attack through a post on his Facebook page.

KP recorded only three suicide attacks resulting in 21 fatalities and 53 injured through 2016, as against six such attacks recorded in 2015, resulting in 63 fatalities and 113 injured. The number of explosions and resulting fatalities stood at 32 and 70 respectively through 2016, as against 40 and 77, respectively, in 2015.

However, Peshawar, the provincial capital, recorded an increase in the number of bomb blasts, from 11 in 2015, to 13 in 2016, though the number of explosion related fatalities remain low, at 19 in 2016 as against 30 in 2015. As in 2015, Peshawar remained the worst affected District through 2016, recording 80 terrorism-related incidents, in which 58 people were killed and another 107 were injured. Violent incidents in 2016 were reported from 20 of the 26 Districts in the Province. In 2014, violent incidents were reported from 21 Districts. The number of sectarian attacks in the Province, though, increased from five in 2015 to six in 2016, the resultant fatalities decreased to eight in 2016 from 28 in 2015.  

The visible decline in terrorism related incidents in the Province has been attributed to the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP), initiated on December 24, 2014, in the aftermath of the Peshawar Army Public School attack in which 148 persons, including 135 children, were killed. More than 312,188 ‘suspects’ have been rounded up in over 25,000 search and strike operations, and in snap checking at 110,000 places in KP during the last almost two years. According to data released by the Central Police Office, 25,145 search and strike operations were carried out in KP between December 17, 2014 and December 6, 2016. A total of 102,282 suspects were held during these operations under NAP. During the two year drive, a total of 1,503 kilograms of explosives some 46,900 weapons and 1.5 million rounds of different bore, were also seized. The official record shows that 738 terrorists were charged, while 1,146 cases of terrorism were traced during the period.

The arrest of such a huge number of alleged terrorists and recovery of enormous caches of arms and ammunition from the Province suggests that there was a surge of runaway terrorists into KP to escape Operation Zarb-e-Azb (‘Sword of the Prophet’, also ‘sharp and cutting’) in FATA. The wrath of these fleeing terrorists fell upon KP Police, the first line of defence in the Province. On August 4, 2016, Chief Minister Parvez Khattak disclosed that as many as 1,587 Policemen had lost their lives in suicide attacks, bomb blasts, ambushes, encounters, rocket and mortar barrages and other incidents, since 1970. Over 80 per cent of these fatalities were among the constabulary. During the past almost 46 years, one Additional Inspector General (Safwat Ghayur); two Deputy Inspectors General (Malik Mohammad Saad and Abid Ali); seven Superintendents of Police (SPs); one Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP); 24 Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSP); as well as 25 Inspectors, 115 Sub Inspectors (SI), 131 Assistant Sub Inspectors (ASI), 148 head constables and 1,133 constables, were killed in the Province.

Casualties recorded a sudden increase after 2006, when terrorists spilled over to the settled Districts from FATA. According to official Police statistics released on July 28, 2016, as many as 1,204 Policemen have been killed in attacks in KP since 2006 - 28 in 2006; 107 in 2007; 176 in 2008; 207 in 2009; 101 in 2010; 148 in 2011; 94 in 2012; 133 in 2013; 108 in 2014; 60 in 2015, and 42 in 2016 (till July 20, 2016). Peshawar tops the list among the 25 Districts of the Province, with over 340 Police fatalities, followed by Swat where 123 Police officials have died. In Bannu, 120 personnel have lost their lives, while 100 have died in Dera Ismail Khan. According to SATP, at least 17 Policemen have already been killed since July 21, 2016 - 13 in 2016 (between July 21 and December 31) and four in 2017 (till February 26). 

Meanwhile, KP Police faces an acute shortage of officers, which has direct bearing on the fight against terrorism. According to an official statement issued in Peshawar on August 11, 2016, the Provincial Police had approached the Home and Tribal Affairs Department, KP, to meet the shortage so they could maintain the operational capability of units established to curb terrorism. The Province needs five Additional Inspectors General, where only two are available at present. In the rank of Deputy Inspector General (DIG), only eight officers are presently working against 18 sanctioned posts. Similarly, against 35 sanctioned posts of SSPs, only 17 are presently available, and there are 57 SPs currently available against 78 sanctioned posts.

While fragmented terrorist groups are now coming together to disrupt the brief period of relative calm in the region, the KP Government’s ‘soft corner’ towards Taliban continues to create violent contradictions. On June 19, 2016, for instance, the KP Government allocated PKR 300 million in its budget to Darul Uloom Haqqania (Nowshera), known as the ‘University of Jihad’. The madrassa is known for having several top Afghan Taliban leaders among its alumni, including former Taliban chief Mullah Omar who received an honorary doctorate from the seminary. Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) leader Asim Umar and slain Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, are among the other alumni of the seminary.

The Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Government in the Province has been allocating money to these Taliban-producing institutions, even while Imran Khan continues to blame the Federal Government for improper NAP implementation as the cause of terror attacks. The duplicity of the Provincial Government in dealing with terrorism will not allow an enduring peace to prevail.

INDIA
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Meghalaya: Dramatic Gains, Lingering Dangers
Giriraj Bhattacharjee
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On February 25, 2017, a Police team that included newly constituted Special Force (SF)-10 commandos, in an encounter, killed the ‘commander-in-chief’ of the now-disbanded United Achik Liberation Army (UALA), Singbirth N. Marak aka Norok. X. Momin, at a hideout located inside a forest near Thapa Matronggre village in North Garo Hills District. Marak, along with other cadres of the UALA had surrendered before the Meghalaya Government on June 9, 2016, and had started living a ‘normal life’ after the group was disbanded. However, he reportedly escaped to the neighboring State of Assam after Meghalaya Police started looking for him following the arrest of one suspect, along with a cache of arms, on November 12, 2016, and surrender of three other suspects on November 13, 2016.These suspects subsequently disclosed that the arms were meant for the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) and they were working under Marak’s instructions to provide the weapons to this militant formation.

SF-10 is Meghalaya's new elite commando force; the first batch staged a passing out parade after completing six months of basic training and a three-and-a-half month special commando counter-insurgency course on October 5, 2016.

Earlier, on February 20, 2017, a commando team of the SF-10, killed a GNLA militant, identified as Walamdaria M. Sangma, in an encounter at Riangdim village in the Shallang area of West Khasi Hills District. A group of GNLA militants had gone there to extort ‘tax’ from coal dealers and exporters before being engaged by the SF-10 commandos.

The lone civilian fatality was recorded on January 19, 2017, when Kerok R. Marak (23) was accidentally killed in cross-fire between GNLA militants and SF-10 commandos in the remote Rongsu Agal area of South Garo Hills District. According to reports, GNLA militants opened fire on a Police team, which had reached the spot after receiving information about a hideout which was ‘used by’ GNLA ‘commander-in-chief’ Sohan D. Shira.

These were the only three insurgency-related killing incidents reported from across the State during the first 57 days of the current year (data till February 26, 2017).

Through 2016, according to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Meghalaya recorded 26 fatalities, including 10 civilians and 16 militants as against a total of 61 fatalities, including 19 civilians, eight SF personnel and 34 militants registered in 2015. Thus, overall fatalities registered a steep decline of 57 per cent in 2016 as against 2015. In fact, insurgency related fatalities, which had been continuously rising since 2010, on year on year basis, first declined in 2015 and went down further in 2016. Such fatalities had touched a low of just five (one civilian and four militants) in 2009 peaked at 76 (23 civilians, six SF personnel and 47 militants) in 2014, the highest recorded in the state since 1992.

More importantly, the Security Forces (SFs) managed to further improve the security environment for the civilian population through 2016. Civilian fatalities which had risen to 28 in 2013, the second worst toll in this category recorded in the State since 1992 (there were 29 civilian deaths in 2002) had come down to 23 in 2014 and  fell further to 19 in 2015, declining further to 10 in 2016.  

Significantly, the improvement in the security environment has been directly linked to the improved success rate against the militants. The SFs achieved a positive kill ratio of 1:4.25 during 2015, and in 2016, they killed 16 militants without losing a single trooper.    

According to partial data compiled by SATP, 71 militants were arrested through 2016, adding to the 146 arrested through 2015 database. Prominent arrests during 2016 included David S. Sangma aka Rikai, ‘east area commander’ of Achick Songa An'pachakgipa Kotok (ASAK); and Rohit Marak, ‘area commander’ of the Liberation of Achik Elite Force (LAEF). Meanwhile, according to a December 29, 2016 report citing State Police sources, at least 229 militants were arrested through 2016. Most of those arrested belonged to GNLA, the report claimed, without specifying numbers.  

SATP data also shows that at least 197 militants surrendered in 2016, adding to 67 in 2015. Prominent among those who surrendered were Zen Roberth Ch Marak aka Toding aka Rupanto, ‘deputy commander-in-chief’ of GNLA; Zen Roberth’s de facto successor Nikam Ch. Momin aka Baichung Momin, 'second in command' of GNLA; Ajan Momin aka Jimmy, ‘action commander’ of GNLA; senior member of GNLA’s ‘finance wing’, Rakseng Ch. Marak aka Geloram; ‘commander-in-chief’ of LAEF, Mathew G. Momin, and 'deputy commander-in-chief' of LAEF, Ravan Sangma,

The major reason for across-the-board improvements in the security situation has been the sustained counter insurgency (CI) Operation Hill Storm (OHS) launched by SFs on July 11, 2014, and which continued through 2016. The fourth and latest phase, OHS-4, was launched on September 22, 2016, to flush out the last remaining leaders and cadres of GNLA in the five Garo Hills Districts and adjoining West Khasi Hills Districts. The mounting pressure on the GNLA, the most active group, left the outfit with no more than 25 to 30 cadres. 10 GNLA militants were killed, 37 were arrested and 94 surrendered through 2016; in addition to the 13 killed, 56 arrested and 20 surrendered through 2015. Disconcerted by these reverses, GNLA’s ‘commander-in-chief’ Sohan D. Shira formed a squad to target GNLA ‘deserters’ in an effort to deter further surrenders and retain the remaining fighters. In one such instance on October 16, 2016, GNLA militants killed its former  'finance secretary', Rakkam D. Shira aka Rikchie, at his residence near Williamnagar in East Garo Hills District. Rakkam D. Shira left the Goeragre Rehabilitation Camp (Headquarters of the 2nd Battalion of Meghalaya Police) without informing authorities. Following this incident, Police issued a fresh advisory to surrendered GNLA cadres. Presently, around 120-odd surrendered GNLA cadres are undergoing rehabilitation at two venues, the Goeragre Rehabilitation Camp and the makeshift Police location inside Baljek Airport, both in the West Garo Hills District.

Another positive outcome was the disbanding of the Garo militant group UALA. On June 9, 2016, 68 UALA cadres led by its ‘chairman’, Novembirth Marak, officially surrendered and to ‘rejoin mainstream society’. Novembirth Marak stated, "We were misguided and had led an altogether different life in the jungles. We regret being in the jungles. We have realised that with arms there cannot be any peace in Garo hills. We are happy to join the mainstream. We believe that society will accept us and allow us to live together." 

Nevertheless, areas of concern remain. Not surprisingly, on January 26, 2017, Chief Minister (CM) Mukul Sangma observed that, though the overall security situation had “significantly improved in the State” over the preceding 10 months, difficulties persisted: “Some militant groups operating in the area (Garo Hills) have been indulging in various crimes such as extortion, kidnapping and dacoity.”  Further, Director General of Police (DGP) Swaraj Bir Singh, while affirming that the situation in the Garo Hills Districts "has improved a lot", cautioned that some pockets in South Garo Hills remained problematic, and that the Police would concentrate on these areas to flush out militants.  

Significantly, according to SATP data, 18 fatalities (69 per cent) in 2016 and 57 fatalities (93 per cent) in the State in 2015 were reported from the Garo Hills region, which consists of East Garo Hills District, West Garo Hills District, North Garo Hills District, South Garo Hills District and South West Garo Hills District. Moreover, incidents of abduction-for ransom, which have long been rampant, especially in the Garo Hills Region, remained a challenge, despite a decline in registered cases. Meghalaya accounted for 27 such incidents (24 in the Garo Hills alone) through 2016, in addition to 44 in 2015 (35 in Garo Hills alone).

Despite facing overwhelming reverses, GNLA remains the most potent groups among the multiple armed formations operating in the State. GNLA was responsible for five of the 10 civilian deaths that were attributed to identified militant group (five fatalities remain ‘unattributed’) in 2016.  Similarly, the outfit was confirmed to have been involved in five incidents of abduction-for ransom. During one audacious extortion attempt, two suspected GNLA cadres, identified as Borgen Sangma and Rankhu Momin, were arrested on December 8, 2016, for threatening to kill Superintendent of Police (SP) of South Garo Hills District, Anand Mishra. The duo was sending threat messages to Mishra's personal and official mobile numbers since October 20, 2016, including SMSs demanding INR five million. Sangma and Momin claimed they were the 'foreign secretary in charge' and 'public information officer' of GNLA and that they were keeping an eye on Mishra's movements. The arrested duo had threatened to raid the SP’s residence and shoot him.

GNLA’s ‘top’ leadership, including its ‘commander-in-chief’ Sohan D. Shira remain active. Worryingly, according to a November 27, 2016 report, GNLA sent an envoy to clandestinely procure more arms and ammunition from the dealers in Bangladesh to add to its already significant arsenal. An unnamed source claimed that the GNLA arsenal has "still enough fire power", adding that the arms deposited by surrendered cadres are simply the tip of the iceberg.  

Further, media reports suggest that, following the shortage of cadres, GNLA, is attempting to lure minors to join its ranks.

GNLA has long been associated with the Independent faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA-I) and, on January 25, 2016, announced that it would join the United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFWSEA). UNLFWESEA, created on April 17, 2015, and headed by S.S. Khaplang, ‘chairman’ of the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K), was formed with the objective of setting up a ‘northeast government-in-exile’. Similarly, the Meghalaya based Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) and ULFA-I, are reported to have attempted to form a ‘united front’. In a statement to the press, HNLC ‘publicity secretary’ Sainkupar Nongtraw on May 15, 2016, revealed that the group wanted to blow up the High Court of Meghalaya and the State Secretariat. The plan was foiled as SFs arrested four militants belonging to HNLC and ULFA-I, and seized explosives, on May 13, 2016.

The security situation in Meghalaya has improved considerably, but a decisive end to its multiple insurgencies remains tantalizingly out of reach. As militant organisations across the region attempt to develop synergies for joint action against the State, the urgency of sustaining operational pressures can only grow, despite the tremendous gains of the recent past.


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
February 20-26, 2017

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

INDIA

 

Jammu and Kashmir

1
3
1
5

Manipur

0
0
1
1

Meghalaya

0
0
2
2

Left-Wing Extremism

Chhattisgarh

0
0
7
7

Andhra Pradesh

0
0
2
2

Bihar

1
0
1
2

Total (INDIA)

2
3
14
19

PAKISTAN

 

FATA

1
0
9
10

KP

10
0
3
13

Punjab

0
0
6
6

Sindh

0
0
10
10

Total (PAKISTAN)

11
0
28
39
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


BANGLADESH

Canada court labels BNP as 'terrorist organisation': The Federal Court of Canada has labeled Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP), one of the leading political parties in Bangladesh, as a 'terrorist organisation'. Canadian Apex court's Judge Henry S Brown in his judicial review gave the observation disposing of an appeal petition filed on May 16, 2016, by BNP activist Mohammad Jewel Hossain Gazi. The officer in his rejection order states: "I note that there is little evidence before me to find that the applicant personally engaged in violence for the BNP. However, I note that the BNP's continued reliance on hartals as a tool to coerce the government by creating significant economic disruption as well as the incidences of violence that resulted from the implementation of the hartals caused by BNP members are sufficient to find that the BNP constituted terrorist acts." The Daily Observer, February 24, 2017.  

Prime Minister slams Pakistan for spreading false propaganda about genocide carried during Liberation War: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on February 20 slammed Pakistan for spreading false propaganda about genocide carried out during the Liberation War in 1971. "Recently it has been seen that the Pakistani conspiracy against Bangladesh is going on. They have published a book where they put caption under the pictures of genocide saying that freedom fighters carried out those. This propaganda is not acceptable to anyone." she said. The Independent, February 21, 2017.  


INDIA

ISI has activated networks in Bangladesh and Nepal for circulating FICN, says report: Intelligence inputs has on February 22 confirmed that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has activated its networks in Bangladesh and Nepal, to once again circulate Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICNs) across the country. According to a report ISI has roped in Dawood Ibrahim's men who function from Mumbai. While fake currency notes of the denomination INR 100 is in circulation, ISI will start printing high quality INR 2,000 and INR 500 notes. The Financial Express, February 23, 2017.  

Assam raising a second line of defence to tackle influx of illegal Bangladeshi nationals, says report:The State Government has started the process of raising a strong second line of defence to work behind the Border Security Force (BSF) along the International Border with Bangladesh to check infiltration of foreigners to the State. Sources in the State Home Department reportedly said that the first step towards a strong second line defence would be to create posts of Superintendents of Police-Border (SP-Border) in the Districts having international border with Bangladesh. Meanwhile, more than 800 chars (mid-channel bars on the river Brahmaputra) have been surveyed by Police and the process to carry out such surveys in the other chars is on. The Assam Tribune, February 23, 2017.


NEPAL

Parliament begins discussions on Constitution amendment bill nearly three months after registration: The Parliament on February 23 finally began general discussions on the Constitution amendment bill nearly three months after its registration. The Government on November 29, 2016, had registered the bill in a bid to address concerns of the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) and the Federal Alliance. The major opposition parties Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) among others, however, had been obstructing the House business since then claiming the amendment proposal was unconstitutional. The Himalayan Times, February 24, 2017.


PAKISTAN

Thousands of Afghan Taliban studying in Balochistan, says Provincial Minister Sarfaraz Bugti: Balochistan's Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs Sarfaraz Bugti on February 26 said that thousands of Afghan Taliban were still studying in seminaries across the province. "There are many seminaries where Afghan Taliban are studying, and many are owned by the Afghan Taliban group," Bugti said. Amin-ul-Hasnat Shah, the Minister of State for Religious Affairs, said that funds for most of these madrassas originate abroad, mostly in Arab countries. "The government is monitoring the money trail and how this money is spent and utilised by the madrassas. We want to ensure that these funds are not used for any suspicious activity or to promote extremism through Islamic seminaries in Pakistan." Dawn, February 27, 2017.

470 suspected militants killed in Balochistan since NAP announcement: Security Forces (SFs) in Balochistan on February 23 claimed to have killed 470 suspected militants, associated with various militant outfits, in the previous two years under the National Action Plan (NAP). During the time period, over 100 militants were also injured in exchange of fire with SFs in Quetta and other parts of the province. "Most of miscreants were killed during IBOs belonged to sectarian outfits," said Anwarul Haq Kakar, the spokesperson for the Provincial Government. Dawn, February 27, 2017.

Army launches 'Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad' across the country: Pakistan Army on February 22 launched 'Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad' across the country, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release said. Radd-ul-Fasaad - which translates roughly to 'elimination of discord' - will aim at indiscriminately eliminating the "residual/latent threat of terrorism", consolidating the gains made in other military operations, and further ensuring the security of Pakistan's borders, read the statement. Dawn, February 23, 2017.

Targeted killings dropped by 72 percent in Karachi last year, says Sindh Police report: According to report compiled by the Inspector General of Sindh Police, a significant decline in the number of targeted killings in Karachi has been witnessed in 2016 as compared to 2015 showing 72 per cent drop. The report said that the Police recorded 45 targeted killings in the city last year, which it described as a huge improvement as compared to 159 such killings in 2015. The report discussing crime and militancy in Sindh, however, does not show any visible improvement vis-a-vis incidents of terrorism. It shows six terrorist incidents last year while seven such incidents occurred in 2015. Some 188 cases of extortion were registered last year which were 27pc less than 256 such cases in 2015. Dawn, February 23, 2017.


SRI LANKA

Political issues prevailing in country for over 30-40 years based on differences in religion and nationality cannot be resolved overnight, says Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on February 22 said that political issues prevailing in the country for over 30-40 years based on the differences in religion and nationality cannot be resolved overnight. "People in this country expected the end of the war to bring peace, the winner would bring the peace, but it didn't happen. A Sri Lankan identity couldn't be created. Our hope is to strengthen Sri Lanka and bring back national unity," he said adding that the two main political parties and other minor parties can join to bring solutions to the political issues in the country. Colombo Page, February 24, 2017.