This country guidance is currently under review. In view of the recent significant changes, notably the Taliban takeover, assessments within this document may no longer be valid. When examining the international protection needs of applicants from Afghanistan, please consider the most up-to-date country of origin information available.
Paktika has a population of approximately 775 000. The main ethnic group is the Pashtun, with a Tajik minority in the cities of Sharana and Urgun. The province is located in eastern Afghanistan and borders Pakistan and the provinces of Ghazni, Paktya, Khost, and Zabul. It is divided into 19 official and four unofficial districts. A national highway connects the provinces of Ghazni and Paktika and continues to the Afghan-Pakistani border.
The influence of the Taliban is high. Nine of the districts of the province are categorised by LWJ as contested, four as under government control or undetermined, and six as under Taliban control.
In April 2020, LWJ described Paktika as ‘a bastion of the Haqqani Network’. As of June 2019, 1 800 – 2 000 fighters of the network were reportedly leading the Taliban operations in Loya Paktya, with the help of militants belonging to the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan. Al Qaeda was also reportedly trying to strengthen its position in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, in Paktika’s Bermel district. In a June 2019 report, the UN Security Council noted that foreign groups active in Loya Paktya benefitted from the ‘remote terrain’ and the limited capacity of the security forces to reach these areas.
The presence of Pakistan’s paramilitary forces has also been reported, notably in Gomal district, where they set up barbed wire along the border, thus capturing parcels of Afghan territory in November 2019.
ACLED collected data on 325 violent events in the period from 1 March 2019 to 30 June 2020 (average of 4.7 incidents per week), of which 214 were listed as ‘battles’, 87 as ‘explosions/remote violence and 24 as ‘violence against civilians’.
Examples of incidents include armed clashes initiated by the Taliban and Afghan security forces and allied militias, including police raids. Other security incidents were related to airstrikes carried out by Afghan and US security forces against the militants, including the Haqqani network and the Taliban, which also caused civilian casualties.
Further impact on the civilian population included, for example, the targeted attacks on health facilities. As of March 2020, the highway crossing Wazakhah district had reportedly been blocked by the Taliban for several years in Goshta area.
UNAMA documented 168 civilian casualties (128 deaths and 40 injured) in 2019, representing 22 civilian victims per 100 000 inhabitants. This was an increase of 11 % compared to 2018. The leading causes for the civilian casualties were search operations, followed by non-suicide IEDs and airstrikes.
RS ranked Paktika in the category of provinces where the number of civilian casualties was between 0 and 25 for the first quarter of 2020, and between 26 and 50 for the second quarter.
In the period 1 March 2019 – 30 June 2020, 2 317 persons were displaced from the province of Paktika, mainly within the province itself. No conflict-induced internal displacement from other provinces to Paktika was reported in this period.
Looking at the indicators, it can be concluded that indiscriminate violence is taking place in the province of Paktika, however not at a high level and, accordingly, a higher level of individual elements is required in order to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.
Main COI reference: Security situation 2020, 2.26