Global Terrorism Index (GTI) was created after an intensive analysis of data and trends across countries about terrorism-related activities. Through this exhausting data, GTI measures the impact of terrorism on the world, which is decreasing across the globe.
GTI concluded that there has been a drop in terrorism activities in the last five years, which is a great success for everyone involved. While the overarching findings from the GTI report were positive, it did not present happy tidings across the board. There are serious threats that are growing and need to be controlled by countries still fighting the war against terrorism.
It revealed that it is the second year in a row, South Asia was the most impacted region by terrorism in 2019. It recorded more deaths than any other region, despite index improvements in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, said the Global Terrorism Index 2020 report.
Afghanistan still tops the ranking despite improvement in its index score. It is followed by Iraq, where incidences increased after the slaying of Qasem Soleimani in a drone attack. The top 10 also has Yemen, Syria, and Pakistan representing Asia.
South Asia has been the hub of terrorism as a result of failed interventions and international politics. Remnants of ill-planned strategies to bring down the Soviet Union still plague the region, leaving behind countries involved in a continuous fight for the safety of its people while maintaining the stability of the region.
Pakistan has been a major affectee of international politics and has found itself in the GTI top 10 since 2006. The country has worked on the security of its people, and in 2019 recorded its lowest number of terror-related deaths since 2006. Moreover, their resolve has reduced these year-on-year numbers by 45 percent, from 543 in 2018 to 300 in 2019. In 2014 Pakistan was ranked at 3rd place, then by 2019, Pakistan moved its rank to 5th; its current ranking of seventh is a great omen for the region. However, Pakistan’s war against terrorism is not over; there is still a lot of work yet to be done. Islamabad has managed to reach its objectives through successful operations carried out by the security forces against terrorists. As a result, Pakistan was able to improve its rankings in the Global Terrorism Index rankings and gracefully moved down to 7th position.
United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, lauded Pakistan’s unflinching efforts in eliminating terrorism. In his four-day visit to Pakistan in February, he also appreciated Pakistan’s humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, especially for accommodating hundreds and thousands of Afghan refugees.
He termed the current security situation in Pakistan “absolutely remarkable” and noted that Islamabad, which looked like a “fortress” a few years back, had now become a family station. The improvements made by Pakistan are in stark contrast to its two immediate neighboring countries, Afghanistan, and Iran, which are ranked at 1 and 2 in the GTI. For the region, this war against terrorism has not been elementary. By 2013, around 10,000 attacks occurred worldwide, and over 80 percent of the lives lost were from this region, namely Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria.
With the continuous efforts of Pakistan’s security forces and government support, terrorist activities have continued to decline steadily. The number of deaths and incidents fell by 87 and 86 percent, respectively. It is a marked improvement as Islamabad has been involved in intense counterterrorism activities. Moreover, the country has been firm over its stance against terrorism and has been successful in thwarting terrorist ploys. It also reached out to traditional foes India to help in its plight of increasing terrorist activities.
The country has undoubtedly come a long way since it was jolted by the wild turbulence of suicide attacks and the constant fear that rose as a result. Reconciliatory efforts and dialogues did not prove to be fruitful. Finally, after the Army Public School (APS) attack, Pakistan reached a point where all hands were on deck. Operation Zarb-e-Azb was initiated in 2014 under the leadership of General Raheel Shareef to comb out the networks from its soil. Three years later, Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was started by the current Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Since 2017, about 149,000 intelligence-based operations have been conducted. Without losing spirit to the 3,800 threats, and 400 terrorist plans have been averted.
After the success of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, Operation Khyber IV, a sub-operation of Radd-ul-Fasaad was completed in August 2017. It sought to prevent ISIS Wilayat Khorasan from further infiltrating Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) from Afghanistan.
Both operations did not fully align with American objectives in Afghanistan or the region, but Islamabad had to put its foot down for its own people. Through this, it has countered the three deadliest groups who collectively accounted for 38 percent of terror-related deaths in 2019. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) continues to be the deadliest terror group in 2019, overtaking the Khorasan Chapter of the Islamic State and was responsible for 73 terror-related deaths in 2019. Then it was Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA) who were responsible for 21 and 20 deaths, respectively. Add continuous transgressions of the LOC from India further complicated the ongoing efforts against terrorism.
However, Pakistan’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Outgoing US President Donald Trump’s appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and even tried in vain to bring India to the table for discussions: “Our relationship with Pakistan is a very good one. Thanks to these efforts, we are beginning to see signs of big progress with Pakistan, and we are hopeful for reduced tensions, greater stability, and the future of harmony for all of the nations of South Asia.”
With Pakistan continuing its quest of nipping every act of terrorism in the bud, it’s on the right track. It just needs the right friends to support them through their journey.