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WASHINGTON: Pakistan continues to work towards harmonising its control mechanism for weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems with the standards set by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, says an official US report.

“Overall, Pakistan was a committed partner that undertook great efforts to build its export control capabilities,” said the report the US State Department sent to Congress this week.

“Pakistan is a constructive and active participant in the Nuclear Security Summit process and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and has worked to strengthen its strategic trade controls, including updating its national export control list,” the report added.

In its annual assessment of terrorist activities in 2015, the State Department reported that the Taliban replaced the Islamic State group as the number-one global perpetrator for terrorism attacks, with 1,093, which represents an alarming increase of 69 per cent since 2013.

The study, sent to Congress this week, also reported an overall decrease in global terrorism, from 13,463 attacks in 2014 to 11,774 in 2015. Total fatalities also decreased from 32,727 to 28,328.

In the context of threat of terrorism arising from trafficking of items that contribute to WMDs, the report noted that Pakistan had taken several positive steps to enhance its security measures.

To combat the trafficking of items that could contribute to WMDs and their delivery systems, “Pakistan continued to work towards harmonising its national control list with items controlled by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, and Australia Group”, the State Department reported.

Pakistan also took other positive measures such as adding “catch-all provisions” to its export licensing procedures, the report added.

Along with list development, Pakistan developed industry internal compliance guidelines and an industry outreach programme for strategic technology sectors, which regularly shares information with these industries.

“The US government seeks to partner more closely with Pakistan on a further enhanced outreach campaign for industry to fully understand and implement Pakistan’s export control requirements,” the State Department said.

The US government also wished to begin a dialogue on controls on conventional weapons and related dual-use technologies, the report added.

The reported noted that in addition to industry outreach, Pakistan also participated, developed, and delivered a series of technical training to responsible government licensing and enforcement officials. The training enabled the officials to conduct a proper identification of dual-use commodities that could be used to create WMDs and/or their delivery systems.

In its global assessment, the State Department also reported a slight decline in the number of countries where attacks took place, from 95 to 92.

More than half of all attacks took place in five countries: Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria. Three-quarters of all fatalities were also reported from five countries: Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State replaced the Boko Haram as being responsible for the most fatalities, having killed 6,050 people in 2015, versus 5,450 for the Nigerian-based group.

The Somali group al-Shabaab was removed from the top-five list of perpetrators, although it was responsible for the third-most attacks in 2014. The new addition to the 2015 list was the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has re-committed to the use of political violence in a significant way, increasing the number of attacks from 47 to 38 and non-combatants killed from 12 to 287.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2016