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Pakistan Suffers Record Terror-Related Deaths, Afghanistan Registers 58% Drop

FILE - Paramilitary soldiers leave a police compound after taking control of the building following an attack by Pakistani Taliban fighters, in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 17, 2023.

Pakistan recorded the second largest increase in terrorism-related deaths worldwide in 2022, with the toll rising significantly to 643, a 120% rise from the 292 deaths the previous year, a new report said Tuesday.

The year saw Pakistan overtake Afghanistan as the country with the most terrorist attacks and deaths in South Asia, a position held by the latter since 2017, said the annual Global Terrorism Index (GTI), released by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

Burkina Faso had the largest number of deaths globally, increasing from 759 to 1,135 in 2022.

The GTI said Afghanistan remained the country “most impacted” by terrorism for the fourth consecutive year, despite attacks falling by 75% and deaths being reduced by 58% in 2022. Afghanistan recorded 633 deaths in 2022, according to the GTI.

"GTI is a composite measure made up of four indicators: incidents, fatalities, injuries and hostages," the report says, adding that a five-year "weighted average"—a calculation that takes into account varying degrees of importance of the numbers in a data set—is applied to measure the "impact of terrorism" within a given country.

“Afghanistan’s drop can largely be attributed to the Taliban taking control of the country after the fall of Kabul in August 2021,” the report said. “As the Taliban are now the state actor in much of Afghanistan, their attacks fall outside the scope of the GTI’s definition of terrorism.”

The report noted that out of all the deaths caused by terrorism worldwide in 2022, about 9% occurred in Afghanistan, a decrease from the 20% recorded the previous year.

Islamic State-Khorasan has emerged as “the most active terrorist group” in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country, killing 422 people in 2022 and accounting for almost 67% of total terrorism-related deaths for the year.

FILE - Taliban officials stand in front of remnants of a suspected Islamic State hideout following an operation against Islamic State-Khorasan, the local chapter of the jihadist group, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Nov. 15, 2021.
FILE - Taliban officials stand in front of remnants of a suspected Islamic State hideout following an operation against Islamic State-Khorasan, the local chapter of the jihadist group, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Nov. 15, 2021.

The number of fatalities in Pakistan represented the largest year-on-year increase in the last decade, with 55% of all terror-related victims being military personnel. The South Asian nation moved up four places to sixth on the index due to the sharp increase in fatalities, according to the GTI.

The Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) was responsible for 36% or a third of terror-related deaths in Pakistan, a ninefold increase from the year prior, making it “the fastest-growing terrorist group in the world.” The GTI noted that the BLA had overtaken the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also called the Pakistani Taliban, as the deadliest terrorist group in the country.

“As a result, BLA’s lethality rate increased to its highest level, with attacks by the group killing 7.7 people per attack in 2022, compared to 1.5 people per attack in 2021. Of the 233 deaths attributed to BLA in 2022, 95% were of military personnel.”

The BLA claims to be fighting for the independence of Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, alleging extortion by the Pakistani government of the region’s natural resources and discrimination against its ethnic Baluch population. Islamabad rejects the charges.

Pakistan, the United States and Britain have designated both the BLA and TTP as terrorist organizations.

The GTI noted that terrorism remains primarily concentrated along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, with 63% of attacks and 74% of deaths occurring in that area.

Stepped-up terrorist activities by the TTP and the Islamic State terror group’s regional affiliate, Islamic State-Khorasan, have driven the rise in nationwide deaths.

The TTP has been waging terrorist attacks against Pakistani security forces to seek an Islamic Sharia-compliant state like the radical Taliban have established in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban is an offshoot and a close ally of the Afghan Taliban. Its leaders and commanders are based in Afghanistan and allegedly plot cross-border terrorism from there.

“Now that the Taliban are in control of neighboring Afghanistan, with reports suggesting leaders of terrorist groups such as TTP are using Afghanistan as a haven, it is likely that terrorist activity will continue along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border despite counter-terrorism efforts,” said Steve Killelea, IEP’s founder and chairman.

The Taliban leaders are under fire for not reining in activities of the TTP and other transnational terrorist groups on Afghan soil as outlined in their counterterrorism pledges, charges the de facto authorities reject.