Senate question hour: Odd math on terrorism makes government totals suspect

Lawmakers expressed concern over the murder of 51 people in the federal capital.
It doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to tell you that these numbers are off: only 493 people lost their lives to terrorism in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in five years.

But that is the statistic presented by the interior ministry in the upper house of Parliament on Tuesday. Ask the exhausted K-P police, however, and they would probably scoff and tell you the province lost more than double that number, 1,924, from 2006 to 2012.

These incredulous statistics speak volumes for the credibility of the interior ministry. Minister of State for Interior Imtiaz Safdar Warraich presented the numbers but not a proper breakdown in answer to a question from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Nisar Muhammad.

On one hand the government has been claiming at international forums that over 40,000 Pakistanis, including the security officials, were killed by terrorists since Pakistan entered the US-led fight. But on Tuesday, for whatever it was worth, official figures of casualties provided by the ministry of interior did not cross the few thousand mark.

Warraich informed the Senate that a total of 68 incidents of terrorism took place in Sindh in which 128 persons lost their lives – a figure that can be contested on many accounts.

Over 2,416 people were killed in 2,181 attacks in the country – excluding Punjab during the last five years, he said. The ministry also claims that a total of 2,059 attacks took place in Balochistan in which 1,155 civilians and 277 armed personnel were killed. The families were compensated Rs372 million.

In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, according to the ministry, 79 people were killed in 12 incidents. The government there has spent Rs70 million fighting militancy in the region.

Interestingly, the ministry claimed that the Punjab police told it that it has no data on terrorism-related incidents.

The ministry told the house that a total of Rs10 million was paid to the families of the victims of terrorism in K-P, Rs304 million for the dead and Rs68 million to the injured in Balochistan and Rs74 million in Islamabad. It failed to gather any information about payment of compensation in Sindh.

The interior ministry also claimed that the ministry of finance had so far not received a single penny from the US in the shape of the Coalition Support Fund. Contrary to this, however, the finance ministry confirms that it was given $1.9 billion in the ongoing financial year alone. Since 9/11, Pakistan has been given $11 billion so far.

The legislators were told that Pakistan has borne a loss of $69 billion since 2001 as a frontline state in the Afghan war. Warraich informed the lawmakers that the downturn in the economy was caused by the decrease in foreign investment, fall in GDP and a drop in employment.

In a written response, Interior Minister Rehman Malik gave details of human and financial losses over the past decade.

Lawmakers expressed concern over the murder of 51 people in the federal capital.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2013.


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