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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan recor-ded a substantial decrease in terrorist activities last year, with 45 per cent fewer attacks and 38pc fewer deaths reported in the year than in the previous year, according to the report of the ‘Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2016’.

This is the second consecutive year in which Pakistan has seen reduction in terrorist activities. Terrorism in the country is now at its lowest level since 2006, says the report released by the US-based Institute for Economics and Peace, an independent think-tank.

The GTI is based on data from the Global Terrorism Database which is collected and collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, a department of the Homeland Security Centre of Excellence led by the University of Maryland.

Pakistan had the third largest decline in deaths. There were 677 fewer deaths in Pakistan. As a result, Pakistan had the lowest number of deaths from terrorism since 2008, said the report released on Thursday.

The reduction in deaths from terrorism is in part explained by Zarb-i-Azb military operation being carried out by Pakistan Army. The operation focused on removing militant safe havens in North Waziristan.

Pakistan continued to see decline in its levels of terrorism due to infighting within the largest active group, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as well as to the operations of the army in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Although the TTP reduced the number of attacks in Pakistan, it was still responsible for the most attacks, according to the report. In 2015 the group was responsible for 36pc of the deaths, totalling 240 people. This was down from 59pc of the deaths, totalling 544, in 2014, representing a sharp year-on-year reduction.

Although the number of attacks declined, terrorist activities was spreading across the country. It moved from the border region with Afghanistan to many other parts of the country, especially the Punjab province in the east which is the most populated area of Pakistan. A total of 429 cities experienced terrorist attacks in 2015, up from 17 in 2000. This may create a much more difficult situation for the Pakistani government in the coming years.

The Global Terrorism Index said that 76 countries improved their GTI scores compared to 53 countries where they worsened; the overall global GTI score declined by 6pc since the previous year as many moderately affected countries experienced record levels of terrorism. The year 2015 saw the total number of deaths decrease by 10pc, the first decline since 2010.

The year 2015 appeared to be a plateau year for terrorism, reversing the steep increasing trend of the three prior years. As the number of deaths decreased by 10pc, after an 80pc increase in 2014, the number of countries suffering more than 250 deaths decreased by one, down to 16 countries.

At least six countries saw very significant deterioration in their GTI scores in 2015, leading to large rank changes from the previous year. This accounted for the overall deterioration in the global GTI score of 6pc as these falls outweighed the substantial gains in Nigeria and Iraq. These countries included France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Tunisia and Burundi.

The five countries at the top of the GTI — Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria — accounted for 72pc of all deaths from terrorism in 2015. This was despite the fact that Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan all had at least a 30pc decline from 2014. Afghanistan, on the other hand, had an increase in deaths of 18pc.

Except for Pakistan, in each of these countries there was a prominent group which was responsible for the majority of deaths.

The global economic impact of terrorism in 2015 was broadly comparable to the previous year, costing the global economy $89.6 billion. This amount was only 1pc of the total global economic impact of violence which reached $13.6 trillion in 2015. Only in situations of intense terrorist activity like Iraq were the costs of terrorism very significant. The cost of terrorism to the Iraqi economy was equivalent to 17pc of its GDP in 2015.

Published in Dawn November 20th, 2016