By Sabir Shah
LAHORE: The extent to which Pakistan has borne the brunt of the US-led War against Terror can be gauged from the fact that during the last 102 months since the 9/11 episode, the country has averagely been rocked by terrorists every 10th day during this period, which has witnessed 332 terrorism-related incidents inflicting 5,704 deaths till date.
While 58 terrorism-related incidents have jolted Peshawar (Charsadda and Darra Adamkhel included) since September 11, 2001, the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad have been hit 46 times by terrorists in these last eight and a half years.
A research conducted by The News, using statistics and chronology recorded by the US Department of State, archives of Pakistani newspapers and websites carrying
information about global terrorism, has revealed that while the port city of Karachi has been struck 37 times by terrorists during this period under review, Lahore has confronted such happenings on 21 occasions, the same number as the Swat valley.
While Quetta has so far seen blood pouring down its drains 18 times, Dera Ismail Khan has been attacked 16 times by the terrorists during this still ongoing war. The Pakistan Army personnel and installations of country’s armed forces, outside the war zones of Swat, South and North Waziristan etc, have been targeted at least 22 times during this time period under review.
Meanwhile, not fewer than 105 terrorism incidents have taken place since in the war-ridden Bajaur Agency, Kurram Agency, Orakzai Agency, Lower and Upper Dir, Mohmand Agency, South Waziristan and North Waziristan agencies etc.
The NWFP cities mainly hit include Hangu, Kohat, Shangla, Buner, Bannu, Mansehra, Buner, Haripur, Nowshehra, Lakki Marwat and Parachanar etc. Terror has also whacked the calm of Dera Bugti four times.
The residents of Bahawalpur, Sialkot, Hub, Sargodha and Faisalabad found themselves strapped in the grip of fear on two occasions each.
Horror also haunted Multan, Mian Channu, Taxilla, Pishin, Panjgur, Gujranwala, Wah, Dera Ghazi Khan, Kalat, Kamra, Bhakkar, Chakwal, Mianwali, Hassan Abdal and Muzaffarabad etc, at least once each.
During this fright-studded period, high-ranking al-Qaeda officials like Abu Zubaida and Ramzi Binalshibh were arrested by Pakistani officials on March 23, 2002, and September 14, 2002, respectively.
Similarly, on March 1, 2003, Wall Street Journal newsman Daniel Pearl’s killer Khalid Shaikh Muhammed was arrested during CIA-led raids on a suburb of Rawalpindi.
At the time of his capture, Khalid was the third highest ranking official in al-Qaeda and was believed to have supervised the planning for the September 11 attacks on the US.
Khalid Sheikh Muhammed was also linked the USS Cole bombing, an attempt to blow up a civilian airliner with a shoe bomb and the terrorist attack at a synagogue in Tunisia.
Claiming that it has lost around $35 billion since joining the still-continuing War on Terror, Pakistan witnessed only two terror-related incidents in 2001, 14 in 2002, just 8 in 2003, 18 in 2004, 11 in 2005, 16 in 2006, 56 in 2007, 72 in 2008, 130 in 2009 and 29 in the first two-and-a-half months of 2010 till the fling of this report.
The year 2009 of course remained the bloodiest of all with 130 incidents claiming around 1,800 lives, followed by 2008 which saw 1,565 people falling prey to 72 such attacks.
Terror in Pakistan claimed the lives of eminent personalities like the two-time Premier Benazir Bhutto (December 27, 2007), banned Anjuman-e-Sipah-e-Sihaba chief Maulana Azam Tariq (October 6, 2003), former Interior Minister Lt Gen (R) Moinuddin Haider’s elder brother Ehteshamuddin Haider (December 21, 2000), noted religious scholar Ghulam Murtaza Malik (May 7, 2002), eminent Deobandi scholar and head of Islamic religious school Jamia Binoria, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai (May 30, 2004), leading Shia scholar and Chief of Tehrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan, Allama Hassan Turabi (July 14, 2006), Chief of Peshawar City Police Malik Saad (January 27, 2007), former Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam MNA and Wafaqul Madaris Vice Chairman Maulana Hassan Jan (September 15, 2007), Pakistan Army’s top medic Lt Gen Mushtaq Baig (February 25, 2008), former head of Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group Maj Gen (R) Ameer Faisal Alvi (November 19, 2008), Awami National Party Provincial law-maker Alam Zeb Khan (February 11, 2009), leading Sunni Barelwi cleric Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi (June 12, 2009), Punjab-born Balochistan Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan (October 25, 2009), Balochistan’s Deputy Inspector General Nizam Shahid Durrani (November 19, 2009), ANP politician Shamsher Ali Khan (December 1, 2009), former NWFP Education Minister Ghani-ur-Rehman (January 3, 2010), Peshawar’s District Police Officer Iqbal Marwat (February 12, 2010) and Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat’s key leaders Mufti Saeed Jalalpuri (March 11, 2010) and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Nadeem (March 14, 2010).
During this particular period, former President Pervez Musharraf survived three life attempts.
While Musharraf saw death close to him twice in December 2003, he also managed to survive the July 6, 2006, attack aimed at his life.
Then Corps Commander Karachi Lt Gen Ahsan Saleem Hayat also narrowly escaped on June 10, 2004, when gunmen opened fire at his convoy in Karachi.
On July 30, 2004, there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the Prime Minister-elect Shaukat Aziz, while he was campaigning for a by-election in Attock District.
On August 2, 2004, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousaf also managed to deceive death.
On April 28, 2006, the then Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, survived an assassination bid at Charsadda.
On July 17, 2007, another suicide bomber blew himself up outside the venue of the district bar council convention in Islamabad, just be-fore the arrival of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto also escaped unhurt on October 18, 2007, when her convoy was attacked in Karachi upon her return from a long exile, but could not ride her luck the second time she was fatally targeted on December 27, 2007.
On October 30, 2007, a suicide bomber struck a police checkpoint in the high security zone of Rawalpindi, less than a kilometre from President Musharraf’s Camp Office.
The blast also splattered the checkpost outside the residence of then Chief of the General Staff General Tariq Majid.
On November 9, 2007, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the house of the then Federal Political Affairs Minister Amir Muqam in Peshawar. The minister escaped unhurt though.
On December 21, 2007, a suicide bomber again unsuccessfully targeted former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao.
On June 9, 2008, controversial Swat cleric and chief of Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi Maulana Sufi Muhammad survived a remote-controlled bomb.
On October 2, 2008, a suicide attacker targeted the Charsadda house of ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan, who survived the attack.
On October 6, 2008, a suicide attacker targeted a gathering at PML-N legislator Rashid Akbar Nawani’s house in Bhakkar. Nawani luckily survived the attack.
On November 11, 2008, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a packed Qayyum Stadium in Peshawar, minutes after the NWFP Governor Owais Ghani had left the venue and just moments prior to the departure of Senior Provincial Minister Bashir Bilour.
On March 3, 2009, a convoy carrying Sri Lankan cricketers and officials in two buses was fired upon near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Six members of the Sri Lankan cricket team were injured.
On March 11, 2009, senior minister of the NWFP Bashir Bilour survived yet another assassination attempt in Peshawar.
On June 11, 2009, the NWFP Prisons Minister, Mian Nisar Gul Kakakhel, was
seriously injured when his convoy was ambushed by suspected militants in Darra Adam Khel.
On September 2, 2009, sitting Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi was injured in a brazen attack in Islamabad.
On February 9, 2010, renowned politician Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was attacked by militants in Rawalpindi, though Sheikh Rashid managed to live on by ducking the bullets.