Attrition: Counting the Dead In Pakistan

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October 14, 2007: The terrorist violence in Pakistan gets a lot of publicity, but isn�t doing a lot damage in a country of 155 million people. So far this year, the violence has killed about 2,000 people. About 48 percent of the dead have been terrorists (including hundreds of foreign terrorists killed in feuds with tribesmen), and 34 percent have been civilians (often families of tribesmen fighting from inside their compounds, which are those little �fortresses� you see all over the tribal territories.) Not quite 20 percent of the dead were police and soldiers. Still, the death toll for all of last year was 1,500 (terrorists 37 percent, civilians 41 percent and security forces 22 percent.) That was more double the 2005 death toll of 650 (terrorists 21 percent, civilians 66 percent and security forces 13 percent.) In 2004 there were 863 dead (terrorists 28 percent, civilians 50 percent and security forces 22 percent) and in 2003, 189 (terrorists 13 percent, civilians 74 percent and security forces 13 percent.)

Back in 2004, it was a pretty normal year. There is always some violence in the tribal areas, and the more populous areas near the Indian border are home to several murderous religious and ethnic sects. The increase in violence after 2003 was a combination of the Taliban getting reorganized, and the al Qaeda, who escaped Afghanistan two years earlier, getting back into action. Early on, most of the dead were civilians, and this eroded public support for the Islamic radicals doing the killing. Thus most of the increase in dead have been among the terrorists. That�s a losing trend for the tiny minority that carries out Islamic terrorism.

 


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