Explosive violence trends and patterns in Pakistan (2011-2019)
- Pakistan has consistently been one of the states worst impacted by explosive violence
- Between 2011-2019 Pakistan has seen 28,824 deaths and injuries from explosive violence
- Of these, 69% (20,012) were civilians
- 92% of the civilian deaths and injuries occurred when explosive violence was used in a populated area
- IEDs caused, by far, the most harm in this period, and were responsible for 73% of civilian deaths and injuries
- Suicide attacks alone were responsible for 32% of civilian deaths and injuries
- 2013 was the worst year in this period for civilian deaths and injuries from explosive violence in Pakistan
In the first three years of the AOAV Explosive Violence Monitor, Pakistan continually ranked amongst the top three worst-affected countries by explosive violence. The first Explosive Violence Monitor in 2011, recorded 3,292 civilian deaths and injuries in Pakistan over the course of the year. As a result, AOAV cited Pakistan as the world’s second most dangerous country for civilians, behind Iraq. The following year, there was little change in the levels of explosive violence in Pakistan, with the 2012 Explosive Violence Monitor recording 420 incidences of explosive violence resulting in 3,287 civilian casualties. However, due to a stark rise in the levels of violence and civilian harm recorded in Syria that year, Pakistan was recorded as the world’s third most-affected country by AOAV.
In the 2013 AOAV Explosive Violence Monitor Pakistan remained in third place, despite AOAV recording a 30% rise in the number of civilians killed or injured by explosive violence from the previous year. In 2013, there were at least 4,279 civilian casualties in Pakistan resulting from explosive violence, making it by far the worst year for civilian harm over the nine-year course of the monitor.
The sharp rise in civilian casualties between 2012 and 2013 occurred despite a large decrease in the incidents of drone strikes in the country, which fell by more than a half. However, as one form of explosive violence fell, another rose drastically, and AOAV recorded a 43% increase in the number of civilians killed and injured by IED attacks between 2012 and 2013.
Although Iraq saw the majority of IED incidents and casualties in 2013, the deadliest incidences of IED explosions overwhelmingly took place in Pakistan. Of the five most destructive IED attacks recorded by AOAV in 2013, four occurred in Pakistan. This included the deadliest IED incident recorded globally that year, which took place when explosives hidden in a water tanker were detonated in a busy market in Quetta, northern Pakistan, killing 89 civilians and injuring 221.
Following the high levels of violence in 2013, civilian casualties fell in Pakistan in both 2014 and again in 2015, when, for the first time, AOAV did not rank Pakistan amongst the five countries most affected by explosive violence. Despite this fall, over the first five years of the Explosive Violence Monitor, AOAV recorded a total of 21,397 deaths and injuries caused by explosive violence in Pakistan, 67% of which were civilians. Most of these attacks were perpetrated by various groups which emerged out of, or were affiliated with, the original Afghan Taliban, or by the Balochistan insurgency, which continually harmed Pakistani security in the first half of the decade.
Although the 2016 Explosive Violence Monitor recorded a small rise in the number of civilian casualties in Pakistan, the country remained the sixth worst-affected country from explosive violence. However, a sharp rise in the number of civilian deaths and injuries the following year, meant that Pakistan was once again ranked amongst the five most dangerous countries in which to be a civilian in the 2017 Explosive Violence Monitor. In 2017, AOAV recorded 2,255 civilian casualties in the country, representing a 51% rise from the previous year.
In recent years, however, explosive violence in Pakistan has been steadily decreasing. The 2018 Explosive Violence Monitor recorded 1,215 civilian casualties over the course of the year, representing a 46% fall from 2017. Despite this reduction, Pakistan was still cited as the second worst-affected country by suicide bombing in 2018, with AOAV recording 685 civilian deaths and injuries caused by this form of explosive violence. In 2019, Pakistan witnessed a further fall in civilian casualties, with the 2019 Explosive Violence Monitor recording 719 civilian casualties resulting from explosive violence, making it the least harmful year since the AOAV monitor began. Although the falling levels of explosive violence in Pakistan are cause for hope, there is still a long way to go. In 2019, Pakistan was still one of only six countries in the world to experience more than 500 civilian deaths and injuries as a result of IED attacks.
Despite a fall in the levels of violence in recent years, over the nine-year course of the Explosive Violence Monitor, Pakistan has witnessed 28,824 deaths and injuries resulting from explosive violence, 69% (20,012) of which were civilians. During this period, IEDs have been, by far, the most harmful form of explosive weaponry used in Pakistan, responsible for 73% of all civilian deaths and injuries. Furthermore, suicide attacks in Pakistan have remained at a high level over the past nine-years and were responsible for 32% of all civilian deaths and injuries in this time, making Pakistan one of the world’s worst affected countries by suicide attacks. Falling trends of explosive violence do reflect an improvement in Pakistan’s security situation; however, levels of violence in the country remain a cause for concern.
AOAV reports on explosive violence in Pakistan include:
Drone strikes and suicide attacks in Pakistan: an analysis
10 years on: the US’ covert drone campaign in Pakistan
The US has entered its eleventh year of carrying out drone strikes in Pakistan. AOAV considers the impacts of these attacks, and calls for more transparency on the practice of using drones.
Anatomy of a suicide bombing: investigating the Moon Market attack in Lahore, Pakistan
In 'Anatomy of a Suicide Bombing,' AOAV explores what followed after an attack on the Moon Market in Lahore in December 2009.
Video: AOAV launches anti-suicide bomb film highlighting harm of attacks in Pakistan
Action on Armed Violence has produced an anti-suicide bomb video to accompany its new research on the disturbing long-term impacts of improvised explosive weapons in Pakistan.
IEDs continue to exact deadly toll in Pakistan
As a teenager dies stopping a suicide bomb attack on his school, AOAV's data shows that IEDs in Pakistan continue to cause large numbers of civilian casualties.
What makes a suicide bomber in Pakistan?
What motivates suicide bombers in Pakistan? Assed Baig, a journalist who has spent many years looking at extremism in Pakistan, shares his thoughts with AOAV.