Terror attacks increased by 50 percent in Pakistan: NGO

By Muhammad Najeeb, IANS,

Islamabad : Pakistan’s leading welfare organisation, the Edhi Foundation, has termed 2008 as a year of suicides and suicidal attacks during which terrorist attacks increased by 50 percent as compared to 2007.

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“The number of suicides and suicidal attacks increased by 50 percent in 2008 as compared to the previous year,” the internationally acknowledged Edhi Foundation said in its report released Friday.

The report said that 3,325 people committed suicide in Pakistan during 2008. It said that 51 terrorist attacks were recorded, including suicide attacks across the country.

“We haven’t compiled the reasons for these suicides but the main reason is unemployment and poverty, leading to hunger and forcing people to commit suicide,” Edhi Foundation chairman Abdul Sattar Edhi told IANS.

Edhi said that in many cases, the suicide attackers agree to blow themselves up because of poverty. “They are trapped by the terrorists because of their hunger and severe poverty,” said Edhi whose foundation has a pan-Pakistan presence and is among the world’s largest privately-run welfare networks.

He said this is the time when Pakistan and other developing countries should make their countries “welfare states and this only can guarantee peace and harmony”, adding that instead of spending hung amounts on defence, the governments should commit themselves to ending poverty, creating job opportunities and increasing education.

Edhi said that most of the religious leaders live on the money of wealthy people and this was the reason that they don’t care about the poor people or their welfare.

Edhi has often been criticised by religious elements for his strong secular views and even dubbed as an “agent of Jews and anti-Islam lobbies”.

He was of the view that through concerted efforts for equal distribution of wealth and by providing people equal opportunities, suicide attacks can be reduced.

The report said that suicides are on the increase in cities and villages and a number of dead bodies are buried without any report to the police.

It said that in Karachi 380 people committed suicide while in interior Sindh 377 people killed themselves.

The Edhi Foundation has 250 emergency field offices with a network of road and air ambulances and also runs 13 homes for orphans. The foundation has also started a service named “Edhi Cradles” where people can leave their infants, who are either raised at Edhi homes or are adopted.

“Usually, these children are up to five days of age and are illegitimate but sometimes, very poor people also leave their children in these cradles,” Edhi said.

The cradles are placed outside major offices of the Edhi Foundation and people usually leave their children in the wee hours to avoid any contact with the foundation staff or passers-by.