WASHINGTON: There has been a marked reduction in terrorist attacks and deaths in Pakistan in 2015, but terrorists seem to have become more lethal as the ratio of deaths per attack has increased.
The statistics from a comparative study of the US State Department’s country reports on terrorism for 2014 and 2015 also show a greater decrease in the number of people injured in these attacks.
The comparative study, released recently, coincided with a debate in the National Assembly in Islamabad this week on the law and order situation in the country. The Interior Ministry shared the State Department’s statistics with parliament to prove that the ongoing operations against terrorists had helped improve the situation greatly.
According to the US State Department, there were a total of 1,009 terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2015, compared to 1,823 in 2014, which is a 45 per cent decrease. The total deaths in the attacks — 1,081 in 2015 compared to 1,761 in 2014 — went down by 39pc.
But in Afghanistan, the number of total attacks in 2015 increased by 127pc between February (88 attacks) and May (200).
However, this trend is obscured in the global statistics due to considerable decreases in the number of terrorist attacks in Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and Nigeria during the first six months of the year.
The statistics for Pakistan, however, also indicated that the terrorists became more lethal in 2015 compared to the previous year. In 2015, there were 1.10 deaths per attack, compared to 0.99 in 2014.
The total number of people injured in terrorist attacks dropped by 53pc, from 2,836 in 2014 to 1,325 in 2015. Injuries per attack also decreased from 1.61 in 2014 to 1.36 in 2015.
The most noticeable improvement was in kidnapping and hostage-taking cases, which decreased to 269 in 2015 from 879 in 2014.
The US study also showed several significant global trends.
The total number of terrorist attacks in 2015 decreased by 13pc around the globe and total deaths due to terrorist attacks decreased by 14pc, compared to 2014.
“This was largely due to fewer attacks and deaths in Pakistan, Iraq and Nigeria. This represents the first decline in total terrorist attacks and deaths worldwide since 2012,” the State Department noted.
In several countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, the Philippines, Syria and Turkey, terrorist attacks and total deaths increased in 2015.
Although terrorist attacks took place in 92 countries in 2015, more than 55pc of all attacks took place in five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria. And 74pc of all deaths due to terrorist attacks took place in five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan.
While the militant Islamic State (IS) group was responsible for 31pc fewer terrorist attacks in Iraq, the number of attacks carried out by IS in Syria increased by 39pc.
The geographic reach of attacks by IS and its affiliates expanded as several existing terrorist groups pledged allegiance to IS.
In addition to Boko Haram in West Africa, the most active of these IS branches were located in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
The number of attacks in which victims were kidnapped or taken hostage declined in 2015; however, the number of kidnap victims and hostages increased. This was primarily due to an increase in the number of attacks involving exceptionally large numbers of victims.
In 2015, a total of 11,774 terrorist attacks occurred worldwide, resulting in more than 28,300 total deaths and more than 35,300 people injured.
In addition, more than 12,100 people were kidnapped or taken hostage.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2016