The latest statistics released by the National Counterterrorism Center showed a dramatic increase in the number of civilians killed or wounded in terror attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, hardly a surprise but a stark reminder that civilians are taking the brunt of the casualties in the region’s conflict.
The figures compiled do not include attacks on military targets, but showed thousands of civilians were killed. Attacks have been steadily rising in the region since the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan and the number of attacks in Pakistan jumped enormously in early 2009 when the US-backed offensive in Malakand began.
“To the extent we are seeing more attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it’s a reflection of resistance to US police and presence as well as a strategic shift by groups like al-Qaeda,” warned former Bush Administration official Juan Zarate.
Officials pointed to relative calm near the end of 2009 in Pakistan as vindication for the Obama Administration’s push for multiple offensives. Yet late 2009 and early 2010 saw a large number of attacks against military targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas, suggesting that the offensives may simply have given the militants more convenient targets closer to home.