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Last Updated: 02 November 2012

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

Pakistan remains affected by landmines and other ordnance from the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–1989) and three wars with India, but more recent and continuing conflicts areas bordering Afghanistan have added ERW contamination, including mines, items of unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO), and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).


Pakistan asserts that it “faces no problem of uncleared mines.” In supporting this statement, it acknowledges that the army laid mines on its eastern border with India during an escalation of tensions in 2001−2002 but says those mines were all cleared and the army has not laid any more since then. However, the report goes on to record 2,098 IED attacks in 2011 “including” antipersonnel mines and antivehicle mines. It said 1,200 of these had detonated, causing casualties. It also reported continued mine clearance by army engineers.[1]

Pakistan’s 2007 Amended Protocol II Article 13 report acknowledged that mines were encountered on the border with Afghanistan “but these are mines left by the former Soviet troops.”[2] During their occupation of Afghanistan, troops of the former Soviet Union scattered mines along the border from helicopters, some of them landing in Pakistani territory. In addition, the mujahideen used mines to protect their bases in the tribal areas.[3]

More recent conflict between the government and non-state armed groups in tribal areas reportedly resulted in new mine use. The Taliban reportedly used mines in the Swat Valley in 2009 to block government troops. Reports from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan indicate continued use of landmines in 2010 as an offensive weapon in tribal and sectarian conflicts.[4]

Despite government claims that it had cleared the mines it laid on the Indo-Pakistan border in 2001–2002 and that “minefields laid along the Line of Control are properly fenced and clearly marked,”[5] inhabitants of Pakistani-administered Kashmir report consistently that some areas along the Line of Control are still contaminated and have not been properly fenced by the militaries of either India or Pakistan.[6] Inhabitants of Garhi Sher Khan in Poonch district, for example, informed the Monitor that villages on both sides of the Line of Control 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.[7]

Cluster munition remnants and other explosive remnants of war

The transparency report Pakistan submitted in March 2011 under Article 10 of CCW Protocol V said there were no explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Pakistan.[8] Its latest Article 13 Report, however, claimed “terrorists” had used IEDs to attack the government and civilians, mounting 4,570 attacks between 2000 and the end of 2010 and causing 3,665 casualties in 2010 alone, including 992 people killed.[9]

NGOs operating in northwestern districts report an ERW threat to communities from UXO, including mortars, artillery shells, hand-grenades, IEDs, and rocket-propelled grenades.[10] 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 informed the Monitor in April 2011 that it planned to establish a mine action facility to provide information, mine/ERW risk education (RE), and victim assistance services to the conflict-affected population. However, the ministry said that, due to lack of resources, the program could not be started yet.[11] The ministry had previously disclosed plans to establish a Training Center for Demining and Awareness in 2007 to act as a mine action center for operations in Pakistan and overseas, but that initiative has also not progressed.[12]

An Inter Services Public Relations representative told the Monitor that Pakistani military engineering units are responsible for mine clearance in contaminated conflict zones.[13] 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.[14]

Mine clearance in 2011

The army and FC do not release details of their demining activities. In its latest Amended Protocol II Article 13 report, Pakistan said its army destroyed 153 antipersonnel mines during 2011, identifying mine types but providing no details concerning their locations.[15]

Risk Education

Pakistan has no formal risk education (RE) program. Since 2009, UNICEF has supported the Pakistani NGO Sustainable Peace and Development Organization (SPADO) and other organizations in developing and implementing RE activities, focusing particularly on internally displaced people in conflict-affected areas in the northwest. In 2010−2011, UNICEF co-chaired a MRE (Mine Risk Education) Working Group. After an initial training jointly conducted by UNICEF and Handicap International, NGOs received technical assistance through a coordination mechanism that meets monthly. The project has included the development of RE materials.[16]

Mines Advisory Group, working in partnership with SPADO, delivered RE in 2011 to people affected by conflict in South Waziristan and in the Orakzai and Kurram agencies. MAG worked through two field offices in central Khyber Pakhtunkwa (Kohat) and in southern Khyber Pakhtunkwa (DI Khan). It delivered direct RE training to community focal points; these focal points in turn facilitated access to schools, madrassas, community centers, and homes. However, the program ended in January 2012 due to lack of donor funding.[17]

The Swiss Foundation for Demining (FSD) also conducted community-based RE operating in four districts of Buner, Dir, Shangla, and Swat;[18] from December 2010, in partnership with the Peshawar-based NGO BEST, it expanded the geographic scope of its operations to include the FATA agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand, as well as the displaced populations from Bajaur and Khyber in Peshawar’s Polzai camp.[19] FSD’s project also terminated at the start of 2012 when ECHO funding stopped.[20]


[1] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for calendar year 2011), Forms B and F.

[2] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for the period 16 August 2006 to 15 August 2007), Form B.

[3] 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 Program, Peshawar, February 2005, p. 13.

[4] “Pakistan: Landmines and UXOs continue to endanger life in isolated tribal belt,” IRIN, 8 June 2010, www.irinnews.org.

[5] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form A, 10 November 2006.

[6] Monitor field research in Muzaffarabad, Kashmir, March 2011, 24–26 March 2010, 22–24 April 2009, 16–19 April 2008, 20–23 March 2007, and 21–23 February 2006.

[7] 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, March 2011, March 2010, and March 2007.

[8] CCW Protocol V Article 10 Report (for the period 1 March 2010 to 31 December 2010), Form C.

[9] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for the period 10 September 2010 to 31 December 2010), Form B.

[10] Telephone interview with Dan Bridges, Program Manager, Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD), 10 June 2010.

[11] Interview with Khalil Ur Rehman, Director, Disarmament Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, 9 April 2011.

[12] Interviews with Muhammad Kamran Akhtar, then-Director, Disarmament Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, 23 April 2009 and 10 April 2007.

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

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

[15] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report for calendar year 2011, Form F.

[16] Telephone interview with, and email from, Elizabeth Cosser, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Pakistan, 16 October 2012; and email from Sharif Baaser, Program Specialist, Mine Action and Small Arms, Child Protection, UNICEF, 18 June 2010.

[17] “Pakistan: Problem statement,” MAG, November 2011; email from Nina Seecharan, Desk Officer, MAG, 4 October 2012.

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

[19] Email from Frederic Martin, Program Manager, FSD, Pakistan, 13 August 2011.

[20] Telephone interview with Ben Truniger, Deputy Secretary General, FSD, 11 October 2012.