A reduction of 13 percent was observed in the rate of terrorist attacks in the country in 2019 as compared to previous years. This observation comes in the 2019 annual report released by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies. While the findings are obviously encouraging, the report also points out that problems remain in place with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Balochistan Liberation Army responsible for most of the 109 attacks which took place in the country. Of these, PIPS notes that the TTP perpetuated 82 of them and the BLA 27. The attacks claimed a total of 357 lives, a decline of 40 percent from the number killed in 2018. Around 729 people were injured in 2019. Attacks by the TTP and organizations linked to it such as the Hizbul Ahrar a splinter group killed 239 people. Most of these attacks by these organizations were concentrated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and notably in North Waziristan. Balochistan was affected equally badly with 171 people killed in the province as a result of terrorist attacks. There were also attacks in other provinces but these were relatively few in number. A two percent decline in cross-border attacks was noted.
Most critically, the report suggests methods to improve the security situation further. It points out that this is especially important give the FATF demands. The deradicalization of members of banned religious organizations is suggested as is a curb on organizations and charities run by banned groups. Linkages between religiously motivated organizations over the internet are also believed to be fanning extremism. For Balochistan, the report says that while young people are convinced violence cannot solve their problems a fast-track mechanism and confidence-building measures need to be developed to address their concerns.
To achieve these ends, the report suggests that the National Action Plan agreed upon in 2015 should be developed into a clearer scheme to reach clear goals and monitor the dynamics of terrorism. Among these would be regulating madressahs more effectively and finding ways to remove hate and sectarian narratives from discourse over cyberspace and in other places. More thought is then needed by authorities on how to clear out the hornet’s nest of terrorism from the country and continue to take forward the successes which have led to recent improvements.
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