Last Updated: 30 July 2010

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

Pakistan is affected by landmines and other ordnance from the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–1989) and three wars with India. However, districts bordering Afghanistan are affected mainly by varied contamination, including not only mines, but also UXO and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from more recent conflicts.


During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, mines were scattered by Soviet forces from helicopters in areas along the border with Afghanistan, some of which landed in Pakistan. In addition, the mujahideen used mines to protect their bases in the tribal areas.[1] There is also mine contamination from Pakistan’s wars with India and from more recent tribal and sectarian conflict, which has involved increasing use of IEDs.[2]

Pakistan has repeatedly affirmed that it “faces no problem of un-cleared mines; hence no casualties were caused accidentally.”[3] It has also stated “mines have never caused humanitarian concerns in Pakistan.”[4] However, Pakistan’s Article 13 annual report submitted in 2007 under Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) stated that “in the area adjoining Pakistan-Afghanistan border, sometimes mines are encountered, but these are mines left by the former Soviet troops.”[5]It also noted that “Existing perimeter marking signs have been painted and marked according to [Amended Protocol] AP-II standards,” acknowledging that some mined areas remained.[6] More recent evidence that Pakistan is affected by both mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) includes mine/ERW casualties recorded during 2009 and 2010 (see Casualties and Victim Assistance section of this Country Profile).[7]

No estimate exists of the extent of residual contamination, but increasing conflict between the government and non-state armed groups in 2009 and 2010 has reportedly resulted in new mine use. Human Rights Watch cited residents of Mingora in the Swat Valley as saying the Taliban had placed mines in the town as the army embarked on its offensive to drive them out of the area in May 2009.[8] Reports from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan point to continued use of landmines in 2010 as an offensive weapon in tribal and sectarian conflicts.[9]

During field research in 2010 in North and South Waziristan, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor was told by both local elders and journalists, as well as by officials and NGO representatives, that the Pakistani Taliban and other non-state armed groups have continued to use former mujahideen bases, and that the area around these camps was contaminated with mines emplaced by non-state armed groups, as well as by mines dating back to the Afghan-Soviet war. Inhabitants of these tribal areas said mine incidents were still occurring, but did not provide specific casualty data.[10] In Kurram agency on the border with Afghanistan, community-based organizations report six to seven mine and UXO incidents per month.[11]

Pakistan has previously declared that mines it laid on the Indo-Pakistan border during the 2001–2002 stand-off with India “have been completely cleared.”[12] It has also claimed that “minefields laid along the Line of Control (LoC) are properly fenced and clearly marked to impose requisite caution on civilians living in the surrounding areas.”[13] However, inhabitants of Pakistani-administered Kashmir report consistently that some areas along the LoC are still contaminated and have not been properly fenced by the militaries of either India or Pakistan.[14] Inhabitants of Garhi Sher Khan in Poonch district, for example, informed Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor that villages on both sides of the LoC were contaminated by mines and ERW, and that rainfall caused mines to drift onto the Pakistani side of the border from higher areas on the Indian side.[15]

Cluster munition remnants and other explosive remnants of war

According to Pakistan’s latest transparency report submitted under Article 10 of CCW Protocol V on explosive remnants of war there are no ERW in Pakistan.[16] NGOs operating in northwestern districts, however, report an ERW threat to communities from UXO, which includes mortars, artillery shells, hand-grenades, IEDs, and rocket-propelled grenades.[17] It is not known whether contamination includes cluster munition remnants.

Mine Action Program

Pakistan has no formal civilian mine action program. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed plans in 2007 to establish a Training Center for Demining and Awareness to act as a mine action center for operations in Pakistan and overseas, and to provide mine/ERW risk education (RE) in affected areas of Pakistan. However, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official told Landmine Monitor in April 2009 that the ministry had made no progress with this initiative.[18]

An Inter Services Public Relations representative told Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor that Pakistani military engineering units are responsible for mine clearance in contaminated conflict zones.[19] The Frontier Constabulary (FC) also says it conducts mine clearance in contaminated areas of Balochistan, FATA, and other conflict zones in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The army provided clearance training and mine detectors to the FC.[20]

Mine clearance in 2009

The army was reported to have conducted demining operations in the area of Chamalang in Balochistan in 2009, clearing antivehicle and other unspecified mines.[21] Army engineers and Pakistan’s FC are said also to have also undertaken demining operations in FATA and the Swat Valley in 2009.[22] No further details on these clearance operations were available as of June 2010.

Other Risk Reduction Measures

Pakistan has no strategic framework for RE. In its Article 13 report submitted in 2007, Pakistan stated that its army engineers were educating people in the “border belt regarding the hazards posed by mines.”[23] However, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor field research and interviews with aid workers, activists, and journalists did not identify any measures by local authorities in border areas to protect civilians from mines.[24]

Since July 2009, UNICEF has supported a Pakistani NGO, the Sustainable Peace and Development Organisation (SPADO), and other NGOs in developing and implementing RE activities in Malakand division and other conflict-affected areas in the northwest. After an initial training jointly conducted by UNICEF and Handicap International (HI), NGOs received technical assistance through a coordination mechanism that meets monthly.  The project has included the development of RE materials.[25]

HI started an emergency RE program for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the NWFP in August 2009, funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Office initially for six months, but this funding was later extended. The program, comprising a manager and eight agents, delivered RE to 1.5 million IDPs in refugee camps and temporary schools, mainly in Mardi and Swabi districts but also in Swat and Buner. The program distributed RE materials and prepared radio spots and messages broadcast on local radio and cable television.[26]

The Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) started community-based RE in March 2009 in partnership with SPADO and as of June 2010 was operating 15 four-person teams, including three all-women teams, in four districts of Buner, Dir, Shangla, and Swat.[27] In five months (through June 2010), FSD reported that the program had conducted 3,869 RE sessions, reaching some 419,271 people. As a result of its RE, 228 items of UXO had been reported to the military for destruction.[28]

Mines Advisory Group (MAG) started an RE project in Pakistan in March 2010, also in partnership with SPADO. MAG provided RE training for SPADO staff as a first step towards training community personnel in the FATA and the NWFP. The initial project was due to run for five months up to August 2010, but MAG planned to apply for an extension.[29]


[1] Letter from Joint Staff Headquarters, Strategic Plans Division, Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs Directorate, Chaklala cantonment, 14 February 2002; and Naveed Ahmad Shinwari and Salma Malik, “Situation Analysis of [small arms and light weapons] SALW in Pakistan and its Impact on Security,” Research paper, Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme, Peshawar, February 2005, p. 13.

[2] Alex Barker, “Improvised Explosive Devices in Southern Afghanistan and Western Pakistan, 2002–2009,” New America Foundation, April 2010, pp. 1–3,

[3] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for the period 16 August 2006 to 15 August 2007), Form B; and Article 13 Reports, Form B, 10 November 2006, 2 November 2005, and 8 October 2004.

[4] Article 13 Report, Form F, 8 October 2004.

[5] Article 13 Report (for the period 16 August 2006 to 15 August 2007), Form B.

[6] Ibid.

[7] See, Fauzee Khan Mohmand, “Anti-tank mine kills 18 in Mohmand,”, 24 October 2009,

[8] Human Rights Watch, “Pakistan: Taliban, Army Must Minimize Harm to Civilians, Humanitarian Situation in the Conflict Area Deteriorating,” Press release, 18 May 2009, New York,

[9] “Pakistan: Landmines and UXOs continue to endanger life in isolated tribal belt,” IRIN, 8 June 2010,

[10] Monitor field research, North and South Waziristan, Mohmand, Bajaur, Orakzai, and Khyber Agencies of FATA, 15–31 March 2010. The Monitor also conducted field research in North and South Waziristan on 15–20 March 2009, 16–22 March 2008 and 2–5 April 2007.

[11] “Pakistan: Landmines and UXOs continue to endanger life in isolated tribal belt,” IRIN, 8 June 2010,

[12] Article 13 Report (for the period 16 August 2006 to 15 August 2007), Form B.

[13] Article 13 Report, Form A, 10 November 2006.

[14] Monitor field research in Muzaffarabad, Kashmir, 24–26 March 2010, 22–24 April 2009, 16–19 April 2008, 20–23 March 2007, and 21–23 February 2006.

[15] Monitor field research in Muzaffarabad; and interviews with local inhabitants of Garhi Sher Khan, Poonch district, Pakistani-administered Kashmir, including the communities of Boon Colony, Chai, Chakrali, Daliry, Dossi, Jamotra, Japak, Khapar Gala, Kota, and Nala, 21–23 March 2007.

[16] Article 10 Report, 21 April 2010, Form A.

[17] Telephone interview with Dan Bridges, Program Manager, FSD, 10 June 2010.

[18] Interviews with Muhammad Kamran Akhtar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, 23 April 2009 and 10 April 2007.

[19] Interview with Brig. Azmat Ali, Spokesman, Inter Services Public Relations, Peshawar, 22 March 2010.

[20] Interview with Sifat Ghayur, Inspector General, FC, Peshawar, 19 March 2010.

[21] “Two landmines defused,” Daily Mail (Pakistan), 28 February 2009,

[22] Interviews with Sifat Ghayur, FC, 19 March 2010; with Ghulam Qadir Khan, FATA Secretariat, Peshawar, 21 April 2009; and with Mohammed Tashfeen, former Political Agent of Kurram, Parachinar, 4 February 2006.

[23] Article 13 Report (for the period 16 August 2006 to 15 August 2007), Form B.

[24] Monitor field research, Pakistani Kashmir, 24–26 March 2010; North and South Waziristan and other areas of FATA, 15–31 March 2010; and Balochistan, March 2010.

[25] Email from Sharif Baaser, Programme Specialist, Mine Action and Small Arms, Child Protection, UNICEF, 18 June 2010.

[26] Email from Aneeza Pasha, Risk Education Technical Advisor, HI France, 23 June 2010.

[27] Telephone interview with Dan Bridges, FSD, 10 June 2010.

[28] Email from Sadia Sadiq, Database Officer, FSD, 10 June 2010.

[29] Interview with Stephen Pritchard, Project Manager, MAG, Pakistan, 31 March 2010; and email, 2 April 2010.