PESHAWAR -- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) is tightening the noose around terrorists, arresting 271 suspects, killing 36 militants and recovering 504kg of explosives during combing operations and raids so far this year.
The 271 detainees include 142 members of banned outfits including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), according to a KP CTD performance report covering nine months from January to September.
Those 142 include 106 "affiliated with the TTP, a proscribed outfit formed in 2007 in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas [FATA] and responsible for most violent incidents of terrorism in the country," KP CTD Senior Superintendent of Police Mian Saeed Ahmad told Pakistan Forward.
Other detainees include five suspected members of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), nine of Lashkar-e-Islam of Mangal Bagh in Khyber Agency, eight of Tehreek-e-Taliban Mohmand, two of Lashkar-e-Jangvi and two of Jaish-i-Muhammad.
Twenty-three of the arrested suspects and four of the militants whom police killed carried head money totaling Rs. 20.8m (US $200,000), Saeed said, adding that police distributed the sums to those involved in those arrests or killings.
In addition, the CTD seized about 504kg of explosives and a number of other terrorist supplies.
The courts are working through the 271 suspects' cases. They have convicted 18 so far, while 129 stay in jail awaiting trial, 49 are out on bail and 16 have been acquitted.
Established in 2013, the CTD has arrested a number of hard-core terrorists, Saeed said.
"Our vision is to purge the country of the menace of terrorism and make the nation prosperous and progressive," he said.
"The effective performance of the CTD has helped KP Police make remarkable achievements in the country's ongoing war against terrorism," said Additional Inspector General of Police (IGP) CTD Salahuddin Ahmad.
Comparing January-to-June data of the past four years reveals a considerable decrease in terrorism in 2016, Ahmad said in a presentation to IGP KP Nasir Khan Durrani at the Central Police Office July 7.
KP Police recorded 99 incidents of terrorism in the first half of 2016, down from 281 in 2013, he noted.
That plunge represents a "65% decline", Ahmad said.
The CTD is working on both offensive and defensive strategies to counter militancy and is rigorously implementing the National Action Plan (NAP), he said, referring to a counter-terrorism strategy that the Pakistani government launched soon after the December 2014 terrorist massacre at Army Public School in Peshawar.
Offensive measures include search-and-strike operations, snap checking (random searches of pedestrians and cars) and crackdowns on militants, he continued.
Defensive measures include denying miscreants their bases in settled areas by cracking down on illegal immigrants, holders of phony computerised national identity cards (CNICs) and tenants with suspicious credentials.
Other measures include cracking down on dissemination of hate material and on misuse of loudspeakers to prevent incitement of sectarian and anti-state sentiment in the province, he said.
"The performance of the CTD in our fight against terrorism is very appreciable, and it is performing above its capacity," said AIG Shafqat Malik of the KP Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU).
"Within a couple of years since its establishment, the CTD has arrested hardened criminals involved in dozens of murders," he told Pakistan Forward.
Shafqat praised the investigative approach of the CTD, saying that courts convicted many of the suspects that the CTD arrested because it collected so much evidence.
"The professional competence of a security department can be gauged by the conviction rate of the people it arrests," he said.
The BDU has done its part by defusing more than 6,000 bombs in KP since 2009, he added.
The various parts of the KP Police work together to defeat terrorism, he said.
Outside observers credit the CTD too.
"The CTD has weakened terrorists' ability to operate," Peshawar crime journalist Adil Pervez told Pakistan Forward. "You can judge this from the falling crime rate, especially the rate of kidnappings for ransom."
Culprits whom the CTD caught include "target killer Muhammad Farid of ... Peshawar", he said, adding that Farid "was involved in killing 32 people, including five women".
Adil suggested boosting the CTD with more resources. It will perform even better if it has more facilities, he said.
How effective will the future fence along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border be in controlling the movement of militants?