Overview: In 2013, Pakistan continued to confront terrorist groups, including al-Qa'ida (AQ), Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Punjabi Taliban, and Lashkar I Jhangvi (LJ), all of whom mounted attacks against police, military and security forces, or engaged in sectarian violence and criminal activities against all sectors of society. Pakistan did not confront Lashkare-Tayyiba, however, who continued to operate, rally, and fundraise in Pakistan with its front organizations. In 2013, terrorists used remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in bicycles, motorcycles, parked cars, rickshaws, donkey carts, and alongside roads, used vehicle-borne IEDs, suicide bombers (including females), targeted assassinations, rocket-propelled grenades, and other armed combat tactics in attacks on mosques, churches, markets, journalists, aid workers, government institutions and officials. AQ and HQN continued to plot against U.S. interests in the region, including U.S. diplomatic facilities. TTP posed a threat to both U.S. and Pakistani interests, and carried out numerous attacks against Pakistani armed forces, Pakistani civilians, and government institutions.

The May 2013 national elections brought in new civilian leadership, which was reviewing a new counterterrorism strategy at year's end. In the pre-election period, some terrorist groups forged alliances with certain political parties, including religiously-based political parties. Some violent extremists conducted election-related terrorist attacks against political parties, candidates, and government officials. Pakistan's government has pursued negotiations with TTP while also targeting the group militarily. Pakistan continued to support the Afghan peace process.

Karachi continued to suffer from political and ethnic violence inflicted by different groups, including militant organizations, fundamentalist religious groups, and the militant wings of political parties. Some militant groups worked to assert control over political parties and criminal gangs operating in the city and surrounding areas of southern Sindh. The security situation in Karachi was a priority concern for Pakistan's president, prime minister, parliament, Supreme Court, and the military and law enforcement agencies.

2013 Terrorist Incidents: During 2013, terrorist groups targeted the Pakistani government and military, engaged in sectarian violence, and perpetrated attacks against civilians. Terrorists organized armed assaults on police stations, judicial centers, border check posts, military convoys, and polio vaccination teams. Terrorists plotted against and attacked judges, prosecutors, police officers, defense lawyers, anti-TTP peace committee members, intelligence officers, and elected officials. In the months leading up to the May national elections, terrorists attacked and killed political party workers and candidates, bombed political rallies, and, after the elections, killed newly elected and appointed officials. Terrorists mounted an armed attack on a Pakistan military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) office in Sukkur, and days later stormed a major prison, releasing several dozen imprisoned high-profile terrorists.

In separate incidents, terrorists assassinated a high-ranking Army general in the tribal areas, the Karachi Chief of Police, and the president's chief of security. Terrorists targeted Shia and other religious minorities in all areas of Pakistan, especially in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Balochistan. Terrorists killed an international team of mountain climbers, including one U.S. citizen, on Pakistan's famed Nanga Parbat Mountain.

As of mid-December, over 1,025 civilians and more than 475 security forces personnel had been killed in terrorist-related incidents in Pakistan during the year. The presence of AQ, TTP, and other militant groups continues to pose a threat to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan. The TTP claimed responsibility for the majority of the frequent attacks that targeted civilians and security personnel. Terrorist incidents occurred in every province. Representative incidents include:

  • On January 10, a string of bombings in Quetta killed over 105 people and injured an estimated 169 more. In one attack, there were two explosions 10 minutes apart, with most fatalities occurring when police and media responded to the first bombing. The banned Sunni group, LJ, claimed responsibility for the twin attack, which took place in a predominantly Shia neighborhood. On the same day, a bomb exploded under a military vehicle at a busy market area, killing 12 and injuring 47 people. A Baloch nationalist group claimed responsibility.

  • On June 15, 25 people died in a sectarian-related coordinated attack on a women's college in Quetta along with the medical complex where victims were subsequently taken for treatment. The attack was notable for its use of a female suicide bomber, the first such occurrence in Balochistan. Later the same day, terrorists attacked and torched the historical landmark Ziarat residence 75 miles east of Quetta.

  • On June 23, terrorists wearing paramilitary uniforms attacked a mountaineering base camp on Nanga Parbat in Gilgit-Baltistan and killed 10 foreign climbers, including one U.S. citizen. Three security officials sent to investigate the murders were also killed by terrorists.

  • On July 10, a terrorist suicide bomber attacked the convoy of the chief of the presidential security detail in Karachi, killing the chief of security for President Zardari and two others.

  • On July 24, suicide bombers and armed militants attacked the regional office of the ISI in a high security zone in Sukkur. Three ISI officials, and 10 Sindh police and Rangers personnel were killed, and 50 other people were injured during the ensuing battle.

  • On July 29, terrorists stormed the Central Prison at Dera Ismail Khan in KP, forcing the release of imprisoned high-value terrorists. Twenty-four people died during the attack.

  • On September 22, two suicide bombers attacked an historic Christian church in Peshawar; 119 persons were killed with over 145 others injured. The bombers detonated their vests at the end of a church service.

  • On September 29, 42 people were killed and over 100 injured after a car bomb blast in the crowded Kissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar.

  • On October 16, the newly appointed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa law minister and 10 others died after a suicide attacker exploded a bomb at the minister's residence in Dera Ismail Khan.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Pakistan enacted additional amendments to the Antiterrorism Act of 1997, and promulgated several new laws to empower the national government to address terrorism with enhanced law enforcement and prosecutorial powers. Pakistan's government is in the process of implementing four significant laws passed in 2013: the National Counterterrorism Authority Act, the Fair Trial Act, amendments to the Antiterrorism Act of 1997, and the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance of 2013 (PPO). The Pakistan government continued to make use of the reinforced counterterrorism legislation; however, the judiciary moved slowly in processing terrorism and other criminal cases in general.

Pakistan took steps in 2013 to address challenges in in interagency cooperation and coordination. In 2013, Pakistan engaged in structural reforms on counterterrorism, designed to centralize coordination and information sharing. The National Counterterrorism Authority (NACTA) was empowered by new legislation in April, but was not fully activated in 2013. NACTA is envisioned as facilitating increased coordination and collection of counterterrorism intelligence among security agencies and provincial police, and providing a vehicle for national policy and strategy formulation for all aspects of counterterrorism. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has nationwide jurisdiction as a civilian agency, and is fully empowered under the PPO to coordinate with provincial and territorial counterterrorism units.

Intimidation by terrorists against witnesses, police, victims, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges contribute both to the slow progress of cases in Antiterrorism Courts and a high acquittal rate. Prosecutors often lacked resources needed to conduct successfully prosecutions in the trial phase. Jurisdictional divisions among and between military and civilian security agencies continued to hamper effective investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases. Pakistan promulgated new legislation in 2013 that supports the investigation and prosecution of terrorism offenses. The new enhanced tools provided by the Fair Trial Act of 2012 and the NACTA law are in the process of being implemented by the government. These laws are designed to provide the necessary legal tools to detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist activities and organizations to intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors. The PPO augments the Antiterrorism Act of 1997 (as amended) and creates a federally-empowered infrastructure with special federal courts, prosecutors, police stations, and investigation teams for the enforcement of 20 specially delineated categories of offenses. Pakistan's 2013 amendments to the Antiterrorism Act of 1997 increase protections for witnesses, victims, and judges in terrorism cases, provide for admissibility of electronic evidence in court, and set guidelines for detention and judicial review.

Pakistan is implementing biometric collection in national databases and screening at border land crossings with the International Border Management Security (IBMS) system. The National Automated Database Registration Authority (NADRA) maintains a national biometric database of citizens, residents, and diaspora Pakistanis, which is continually subject to upgrades. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Pakistan's customs and tax authority, continues to maintain currency detection units in Pakistan's 12 international airports to counter bulk cash smuggling. The FBR has improved information sharing protocols on arrests and seizures.

The Antiterrorism Courts in Pakistan have limited procedures for the admission of foreign evidence. Pakistan's prosecution of seven suspects accused in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack is ongoing, with witnesses recording statements before the court. A Pakistani judicial commission made a second visit to India to obtain evidence and cross-examine four witnesses involved in India's prosecution of Ajmal Kasab; however, it is unknown what impact India's execution of Kasab in 2012 might have on the prosecution's ability to introduce Kasab's confession in the trial.

Pakistani military forces conducted significant counterterrorism operations in the tribal areas, and civilian and other forces conducted operations in Sindh, Balochistan, KP, and Punjab. Some AQ-affiliated terrorist groups were disrupted in Punjab, and some TTP leaders were killed during security operations. Security forces intercepted large stockpiles of weapons and explosives and discovered bomb-making facilities and sophisticated telecommunication networks. Pakistan continued to arrest terrorists and initiate prosecutions throughout 2013.

Cooperation with Pakistan's security establishment on information sharing and law enforcement continued. Law enforcement cooperation continues with respect to terrorist attacks and plots against the embassy and personnel in Islamabad and the U.S. Consulates General and personnel in Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar. Pakistani security services continued to actively investigate individuals and organizations behind the threats to the U.S. Consulate in Lahore and have partnered with the United States for information exchange and enhanced security cooperation.

Pakistan continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA training and equipment focused on building capacity to respond to critical terrorism-related incidents – including explosives-related incidents – and to conduct counterterrorism investigations. The ATA program was able to successfully deliver crisis response training in the latter part of 2013. Overall, however, delays in issuance of Pakistani visas to ATA trainers significantly impeded program implementation.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Pakistan is an active participant in the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In February 2012, FATF identified Pakistan on its public statement because Pakistan failed to address strategic deficiencies in anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance (AML/CFT). In October, the FATF noted Pakistan's substantial steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including by issuing a Statutory Regulatory Order that addresses the definition of terrorism and an Antiterrorism Amendment Ordinance to establish procedures for the identification and freezing of terrorist assets. While FATF praised the content of the Antiterrorism Amendment Ordinance, it encouraged Pakistan to take the necessary steps for swift ratification of the ordinance by its legislature.

UN-designated terrorist organizations in Pakistan continue 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, there was still concern about the weak implementation of UNSCRs 1267 (1999) and 1988 (2011) and their follow-on resolutions. While Pakistan has taken steps over the past year to implement UNSCR 1267, it still falls short of FATF's international standards regarding the identification and freezing of terrorist assets under UNSCR 1373 (2001). The government has the ability to freeze assets but cannot confiscate assets unless an individual or entity is convicted of a crime. Pakistan issued a UNSC Enforcement Order of 2012 setting out a range of sanctions for non-compliance in the implementation of UNSCR 1267 but has not yet applied this authority. The FATF has recommended that Pakistan increase the administrative monetary penalty available or legislate for additional criminal sanctions to meet the international standards.

Lack of capacity, resource constraints, and effective CFT training for all participants in the criminal justice system are deterrents to an effective government response. Further, delays or denials of visas for U.S. law enforcement and judicial officials seeking to engage in AML/CFT capacity building have furthered hampered efforts in this area. Terrorist groups such as the Haqqani Network continued to raise funds in Pakistan.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 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 counterterrorism efforts in both regional and international venues. Pakistan is an active member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and attended GCTF meetings and supported GCTF initiatives. Pakistan is a partner in the UK's Counterterrorism Prosecution Reform Initiative (CaPRI), and provincial governments contributed to rule of law programs in Malakand and Punjab. Pakistan participated in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meetings on counterterrorism; is a member of Interpol and the Organization of Islamic States (OIC); and participated in multilateral groups where counterterrorism cooperation is discussed, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) (as an observer) and the D-8, a group of developing nations with large Muslim populations. Pakistan participated in UN Security Council meetings on sanctions and counterterrorism, and co-hosted a UN Counter-Terrorism Committee's Executive Directorate regional workshop for South Asian judges, prosecutors and investigators in Islamabad.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States held high-level meetings on regional security, including efforts to combat violent extremism in the border region and to promote an Afghan reconciliation process. Pakistan also participated in bilateral meetings with a number of other nations on security cooperation and counterterrorism, including Turkey and the People's Republic of China.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: In 2013, Pakistan's NACTA started consultations with Malaysia, Turkey, and Indonesia on strategies for countering violent extremism Integration of militants into society after peace agreements remained a major priority for the government. Pakistan's military worked with civil society to operate the Sabaoon Rehabilitation Center, a de-radicalization program for youth in a military camp in Mingora, Swat. Militancy-exposed youth are rehabilitated through a combination of education and counseling. Sabaoon centers claim success in reintegrating militant youth into society, and there are now nine such centers operating in KP and FATA.


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.