Pakistan has seen a considerable decline in number of terror fatalities in 2016, according to a recent report.
Global Peace Index 2017, a detailed report containing data on terrorism released last week observed there were 736 terror attacks in Pakistan during 2016, which resulted in 956 deaths, a 12 percent decline in terror-related deaths from 2015.
The report said the Taliban in Pakistan, "was responsible for 283 deaths in 2016, which accounted for 30 percent of the deaths from terrorism that year,” the report noted.
“Most of these deaths resulted from suicide bombings. The largest bombing targeted Christians celebrating Easter Sunday in Lahore and killed 79 people.”
The report noted the reduction in terrorism fatalities is due to a significant drop in Pakistan Tehreek-i-Taliban’s activities. The terror group has been responsible for more than 4,500 killings since 2000 in the country.
The 108-page detailed report is produced by the Institute of Economics and Peace, an Australian based research group that compiles a yearly terrorism report after gathering data from 163 countries based on global trends of terrorism, terror fatalities, terror recruitment, profiles of terror groups and economics of terrorism.
Despite being placed in the five most impacted countries by terrorism in the world, Pakistan has shown positive results of its efforts to combat terrorism, the fifth edition of the global terrorism index noted.
“The reduction in deaths from terrorism is in part attributable to Operation Zarb-e-Azb by the Pakistani Army; a military effort which started in mid-2014,” said the global terror report.
Pakistani lawmakers say the concrete steps taken by the government to root-out extremism have proved successful.
“Military operations Radul Fasad [rejection of discontent] and Zarb-e-Azb [sharp strike], National Action Plan, execution of terrorists in the military courts — all these policies by the government have given us desired results against terrorism,” Abdul Qayyum, chairperson of Pakistan’s Senate Defense Committee and leading member of the ruling party PML-N told VOA.
“We had three flash points in Pakistan that were Karachi, Balochistan and FATA [Federally Administrated Tribal Areas] region. We still see a few terror incidents here and there but it is almost 70 percent less than the past. This shows our resilience and commitment against terrorism,” Qayyum added.
While the defense analysts believe the statistics of the report are encouraging, they also emphasize Pakistan needs to stay vigilant and undeterred in the fight against terrorism that poses a continued threat to its national security.
“The facts mentioned in the global index are satisfactory and Pakistan should continue with a more powerful strategy to fight against terrorism and a will to execute it,” Maria Sultan, a defense analyst from Islamabad told VOA.
“We also need help from national and international community because terrorism is not only Pakistan’s issue, but is a joint problem of the region,” Sultan added.
Extremism and militancy have remained a big challenge for the South Asian region particularly Pakistan and Afghanistan for decades now — where insurgent groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State have paved ways, established networks and launched numerous deadly attacks on both sides of the border.
Pakistan says it is determined to combat terrorism and claims several military operations launched in recent years have helped dismantle terror networks in the country.
Pakistan alleges, despite its efforts, it is still a victim of terrorism because Afghanistan harbors Taliban and IS militants who use Afghan soil to attack Pakistan.
On the other hand, Afghanistan and the United States accuse Pakistan of providing safe havens for Taliban.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells recently criticized Pakistan on its selective approach against militants in the country.
“We would like to see the same commitment that Pakistan brought in 2014 to the fight against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan; that same strategic commitment to the other militant proxy groups who take advantage of Pakistan territory,” Wells told VOA.
Qayyum denies the allegation and says Pakistan has played its part and now Kabul and Washington should admit there are Taliban sanctuaries in Afghanistan and they have to make serious efforts to destroy them if they want peace in the region.