FATA: Troubled Territory

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

At least two civilians were killed and another injured when a terrorist attacked a 'checkpost' of the peace committee in the Wana area of South Waziristan Agency (SWA) in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) on December 14, 2017. No group has, so far, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Bihar: Lingering Dangers

A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper, Ashish Patra (29), was killed during an exchange of fire between Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres and Security Force (SF) personnel in the Chakarbandha Hills near Balthar village under Barachatti Tehsil (revenue unit) in Gaya District on January 2, 2018. According to sources, on January 1, after receiving specific intelligence regarding Maoists' movement in the area, a search operation was launched by the SFs. On the next day (January 2), at around 3.30pm, an exchange of fire took place between the two sides in which the CRPF trooper sustained injuries and died later.

Hopes and Fears

After a gap of 18 years, the first phase of Provincial and Parliamentary Elections was held across 32 Hill Districts in six Provinces on November 26, 2017. 65 per cent of the 3.19 million voters cast their votes. Elections in the first phase took place for 37 federal Parliamentary and 74 Provincial Assembly seats. There are 165 seats in the House of Representatives and 330 in the Provincial Assemblies in total. The remaining seats are scheduled for elections on December 7, 2017, in the second phase covering 45 Districts, including Kathmandu valley and the southern plains of Nepal known as the Terai. The country must conduct the elections to the House of Representatives and Provincial Assemblies by the constitutional deadline of January 21, 2017. This is for the first time that elections for the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies are being conducted under the new Constitution adopted on September 20, 2015. The last parliamentary poll was held in 1999.

On Course Again
On October 21, 2017, 40 Islamic State (IS, formerly, Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, also Daesh) terrorists, including two trainers and 38 suicide bombers, were killed in a deadly United States (US) airstrike targeting a training camp for the suicide bombers in the Achin District of eastern Nangarhar Province. Police identified the two Daesh trainers killed in the attack as Qari Quran and Qari Fida. A significant cache of weapons, ammunition and explosives belonging to the terror group were also destroyed in the airstrike.
Pathways to Resolution
On September 18, 2017, the third and final phase of local level elections was held for 136 local units including one metropolitan city, three sub-metropolii, 73 municipalities and 59 rural municipalities in the eight Districts of Province 2 in Nepal. Of the 2,664,950 registered voters, 73 per cent cast their votes. The voting concluded peacefully though there were some reports of pre-poll and post-poll violence. Pre-poll violence included:
Karachi: Campus Terror
In the morning of September 2, 2017, two terrorists carried out an attack targeting Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader, Khwaja Izharul Hassan, killing two persons, including one of his guards and a child in the vicinity, and injuring another two in the Buffer Zone area of Karachi (Karachi District), the provincial capital of Sindh. Khwaja Hassan, who is also the leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly, survived the assassination attempt unhurt. According to details the assailants clad in Police uniforms and riding on a motorcycle opened fire on Hassan when he was leaving a mosque after offering Eid-ul-Adha [Islamic festival of sacrifice] prayers. Ansar-ul-Shariah Pakistan (ASP) in a Tweet on September 3 claiming responsibility for the attack, alleged that Khawaja Hassan was a "pro-American MQM leader".
The Mask of Politics
With the United States exerting more pressure, there seems to be urgency among terrorist formations/individual leaders operating out of Pakistani soil to gain 'political legitimacy' to counter any further existential threat. On September 30, 2014, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, founder of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) which operates in Indian Jammu & Kashmir, reportedly decided to form his own political party. Khalil was declared a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" by the US on September 30, 2014. Khalil confirmed this decision in an August 25, 2017, report:
Manipur: Churachandpur: The Heart of 'Kukiland'
On August 2, 2017, unidentified militants killed Kuki National Liberation Front (KNLF) 'general secretary', Lalmoi Haokip aka Tonglenlal, at Tuibong Bazar in Churachandpur District. KNLF is one of fifteen constituents of the Kuki National Organisation (KNO), which is maintaining a Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with both the Union and State Governments since August 22, 2008.
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