PESHAWAR -- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) witnessed in 2016 the lowest number of terror incidents in years, resulting in better law and order throughout the province, officials told Pakistan Forward.
"The number of terrorist attacks in the province in 2016 was lower than in the last six years, which is proof that the efforts of army and police have improved the law-and-order situation to a great extent," KP Inspector General of Police (IGP) Nasir Khan Durrani told Pakistan Forward.
KP Police, especially the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), played a pivotal role in improving law and order through increased intelligence-based search-and-strike operations and restricting militants' safe havens through a number of new police reforms, he said.
"If we compare the number of terror incidents in 2016, it is far better than those in 2015 and 2014," said Durrani, adding that the province suffered 238 terrorist incidents in 2016, compared to 297 in 2015 and 610 in 2014.
"Incidents of extortion also went down to 100 in 2016 as compared to 344 in 2014 and 178 in 2015," he said.
Military action, police reforms bring success
Additional IGP CTD Salahuddin Mehsud briefed Durrani on the updated figures during a January 16 meeting at the Central Police Office in Peshawar.
"Apart from blasts and extortion cases, the number of kidnapping-for-ransom cases reached 22 in 2016, [compared to] 110 in 2014 and 53 in 2015," said Mehsud, who has been heading the CTD for about two years.
The Pakistan Army's operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have had "remarkable effects on the law-and-order situation in KP," he told Pakistan Forward.
"For police, there were two major challenges: one, nabbing fleeing militants who had escaped to settled areas as a result of the operation, and two, to stop their further infiltration," he said.
KP Police have arrested 1,195 hardcore militants since the June 2014 launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb (the army's offensive in North Waziristan), according to Mehsud.
"Besides, 121 top wanted men carrying head money were also arrested," he said. "A total of 1,192 terrorism cases were traced and sent to the court."
While the number of terror threats has decreased, police and other law enforcement agencies remain on high alert to thwart any sabotage activity, he said.
"Those arrested by KP Police could have wrecked havoc in the province had they not been rounded up quickly," Durrani said.
In addition, police acted against property owners who had not registered tenants coming from other areas as per the new law aimed at preventing militants from hiding in cities, he said.
"As many as 22,500 cases were registered against those landlords who had not registered the tenants or provided their details to police," he said.
Continued efforts needed for complete peace
The overall decrease in the number of terrorist attacks in KP and the rest of Pakistan is encouraging, Zafar Ullah Khan of Peshawar, former national co-ordinator for the National Counter-Terrorism Authority and former IGP, said.
"Military actions in FATA as well as police operations in the settled parts played a key role in improving law and order," he told Pakistan Forward.
Nonetheless, more efforts are needed for complete peace in KP and rest of the country, he added. "The law enforcement agencies have done a great job and need to continue it till peace is restored completely," he said.
KP residents expressed relief over the decrease in suicide attacks, bombings, rocket barrages and other terror-related incidents.
"There was a time when you would wake up to hear about a blast and would hear bangs of rockets while going to bed," said Abdul Rahman, a university student from Peshawar.
The efforts of police, army, other law enforcement agencies and the will of the government made it possible to start enjoying life again, he told Pakistan Forward.
"More work needs to be done in the next few years," Rahman said, calling for an emphasis on the security of schools and public places. The government ... shouldn't stop until the complete return of normality."