Overview: In 2012, Pakistan remained an important partner in counterterrorism efforts against al-Qa'ida (AQ). Pakistan also undertook operations against terrorist groups that carried out attacks within Pakistan, such as the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP or Pakistani Taliban). Pakistan did not take significant action against some other violent extremist groups, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), which continued to operate and raise funds openly in Pakistan through its political and charitable wing, Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD). The Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network (HQN) continued to conduct operations against U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan from Pakistan. Pakistan took steps to support an Afghan peace process and publicly called on the Taliban to enter into talks with the Afghan government. Hundreds of terrorist attacks occurred nationwide against all sectors of society, including Pakistani military and security personnel.

Pakistani officials continued to make public statements against terrorism and violent extremism. The widely publicized shooting of a 14-year-old girl, Malala Yousufzai, by the TTP led to public calls for the government to do more against terrorist groups. In March, Pakistan's parliament affirmed its commitment to eliminating terrorism and countering violent extremism. The Government of Pakistan also moved forward several pieces of counterterrorism legislation.

Some banned organizations openly participated in political rallies and forged alliances with religious political parties. In September and October, militant groups and religious parties joined forces to protest and conduct public demonstrations nationwide over the video The Innocence of Muslims. Violence occurred during the early days of the protests. The government and security agencies undertook enhanced security measures during the protests and sought to convince the militant groups to participate peacefully.

Pakistan's Shia minority continued to be targeted in large-scale sectarian attacks, including in Karachi, Balochistan, and northwest Pakistan. Targeted killings of both Shia and Sunni activists occurred in Karachi. The TTP claimed credit for some sectarian attacks during the Shia holiday of Moharram, although increased levels of security prevented many TTP-planned suicide attacks on Shia processions and mosques, according to law enforcement reports. Despite the government's stringent security measures, including a ban on both cell phone usage and motorbikes, a series of four major bombings in Karachi, Dera Ismail Khan, and Rawalpindi marred the Moharram religious week.

2012 Terrorist Incidents: Over 2,000 Pakistani civilians and 680 security forces personnel were killed in terrorist-related incidents in 2012. Terrorist incidents occurred in every province. Terrorists attacked Pakistani military units, police stations, and border checkpoints, and conducted coordinated attacks against two major military installations. Terrorists displayed videos on the internet of the murders and beheadings of security forces. Terrorist groups also targeted police and security officials with suicide bombings and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Terrorist groups targeted and assassinated tribal elders, members of peace committees, and anti-Taliban government officials. The TTP often claimed responsibility for attacks targeting civilians and security personnel in Pakistan.

Representative incidents included:

  • On February 17, a suicide bomber killed 41 people in a bazaar near a Shia mosque in Parachinar, Kurram Agency. A splinter group of the TTP claimed responsibility for the blast.

  • On February 23, a remote-controlled bomb inside a parked car exploded outside a bus station in Peshawar. The blast killed 13 people and injured 38.

  • On April 24, a five-kilogram bomb in a bag exploded at the Lahore Railway Station. The blast killed three people and injured 58.

  • On July 12, the TTP stormed a police training facility in Lahore and executed nine police cadets.

  • On August 16, the TTP launched a coordinated assault with armed commandos and suicide bombers on the Kamra Air Force Base in Attock, Punjab. One security official was killed in the attack.

  • On August 29, terrorists attacked a Pakistani military post near the Afghan border in South Waziristan and killed 12 soldiers. TTP uploaded video to the internet of some of the soldiers being beheaded.

  • On September 3, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden vehicle next to a Consulate General Peshawar motorcade near the entrance to the Consulate's University town housing area. The blast killed one bystander and injured at least 20 others. Two U.S. diplomatic personnel were injured along with three local staff members and two Pakistani Police officers.

  • On November 21, a suicide bomber detonated his jacket near a Moharram religious procession in Rawalpindi. The blast killed 23 people and injured 62.

  • On December 15, terrorists attacked Peshawar Airport, killing nine people and injuring 42.

  • On December 22, at least nine people, including a provincial Minister, were killed and over 18 others were injured when a suicide bomber attacked a political gathering in Peshawar.

  • On December 29, 22 Pakistani soldiers were killed by TTP elements outside Peshawar.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In November, the Cabinet approved the National Counter Terrorism Authority Act of 2012, which was designed to strengthen counterterrorism coordination and information-sharing between security agencies and provincial police and provide a vehicle for national counterterrorism policy and strategy formulation. In December, Pakistan's National Assembly approved the Fair Trial Act, which was designed to provide the necessary legal tools to intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors to detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist activities and organizations. The law authorizes trial courts to use evidence obtained by electronic interception and surveillance.

Pakistani security forces conducted counterterrorism operations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and throughout the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that resulted in the detention or arrest of thousands of militants. Security forces intercepted large stockpiles of weapons and explosives, and discovered bomb-making facilities.

Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Courts have a high acquittal rate. Witnesses routinely recant their statements or fail to appear because of threats against them and their families. In June, an Anti-Terrorism Court acquitted four men accused of assisting Faisal Shahzad, the TTP-trained militant who attempted to explode a car bomb in New York City's Times Square in 2010, claiming a lack of evidence. The court would not accept evidence collected by electronic surveillance. The Fair Trial Act, approved by parliament in December, will allow evidence obtained by electronic interception and surveillance to be admitted as evidence in the courts system.

Pakistan did not conclude the trials of seven alleged perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, although it continued to maintain a dialogue with India on steps both sides need to take to enable the prosecutions to move forward.

Information sharing and counterterrorism activities with Pakistan's security establishment continued. Pakistani law enforcement reinforced security at U.S. facilities in Pakistan during the protests over the Innocence of Muslims video in September 2012, and took steps to ensure the security of U.S. personnel. Long delays in visa processing for U.S. personnel impeded counterterrorism-related assistance and training for security forces and prosecutors.

Pakistan remained a partner nation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program, which provided tactical and investigative training at the federal and provincial levels.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Pakistan is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The FATF named Pakistan on its public statement in February due to Pakistan's failure to address strategic deficiencies in its anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime. The FATF recommended Pakistan enact legislation to strengthen authorities to prosecute terrorist financing as well as to identify, freeze, and confiscate terrorist assets. The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act of 2012 introduced in Parliament in December includes several of the recommended changes but still failed to bring Pakistan into compliance with international AML/CFT standards.

In April, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Pakistan's customs and tax authority, established Currency Detection Units in Pakistan's 12 international airports to counter bulk cash smuggling. The FBR also instituted improved information-sharing protocols on counterterrorism-related arrests and seizures.

UN-designated terrorist organizations continued to avoid sanctions by reconstituting themselves under different names, often with little effort to hide their connections to previously banned groups. Although Pakistan added some named groups to its proscribed organizations list, Pakistan needs to take additional steps to implement and enforce UNSCRs 1267/1989, 1988, and 1373. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: Pakistan actively participated in regional and international counterterrorism efforts, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Pakistan commanded Combined Task Force 151, an international naval task force set up to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Pakistan was a partner in the UK's Counterterrorism Prosecution Reform Initiative and the UN Development Program, which worked with provincial governments on rule of law programs in Punjab and Malakand. Pakistan participated in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation meetings on counterterrorism and participated in multilateral groups where counterterrorism cooperation was discussed, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (as an observer) and the D-8, a group of developing nations with large Muslim populations. In October, Pakistan's Interior Minister participated in a Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism working group in Washington, DC.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Pakistan's military worked with civil society leaders to operate the Sabaoon Rehabilitation Center, a de-radicalization program in Mingora, Swat where radicalized youth are rehabilitated through education and counseling.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.