The Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) says the number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan last year declined by 28 percent to 441, and it gave much of the credit to the country’s security forces.
But while there were fewer attacks, the number of people killed did not decline as much because the attacks last year were generally larger and deadlier. PIPS said attacks by militants, nationalists, insurgents, and sectarian groups claimed 908 lives in 2016, down 12 percent from 2015.
“Whatever Pakistan has accomplished in its war against terrorism is largely due to extensive operations launched against militants by security and law enforcement agencies across the country,” the group said in its Pakistan Security Report.
The PIPS said the “major actors of instability” are still active in the country and that their support bases remain strong.
“The presence of supporters and affiliates of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in parts of the country is still a big challenge,” it said.
It said that the instability in neighboring Afghanistan gave ISIS the opportunity to extend its reach out to new recruits.
It added that weak coordination between Pakistan and Afghanistan on border issues and counterterrorism is hindering operations. It urged both countries to “evolve certain joint counterterrorism mechanism to address the common challenges.”
About 48 percent, or 211, of the total reported terrorist attacks in 2016 were directed toward the security forces and law enforcement agencies. The reported added that 206 police officers were killed in attacks.
Civilians were the apparent targets of 89 attacks, the study said. About 27 attacks hit tribal elders and volunteers of antimilitant peace committees, mainly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The report pointed out that in the province of Balochistan, “changing dynamics” now mean that region’s security forces face a much larger threat from various Islamic militants than from Baluchi nationalist insurgents.
The nationalists have continued “low-intensity” attacks but, the report said, groups such as Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) and the Pakistani Taliban have been carrying out major attacks.
A separate report last week by the Pakistani Center for Research and Security Studies said there was a 45 percent drop in violence-related deaths in 2016 in the country from the previous year. It also credited the work of the country’s security forces for the decline.