ISLAMABAD: To ensure the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism and extremism, the government on Saturday formed 15 committees to deal with proposals given in the plan, where Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan emerged as the ‘man of action’, getting charge of 11 committees.
The committees also include ministers, senior government officials and top army officials such as the directors general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Operations. However, in what appears to be a sign that the military will focus primarily on anti-terrorist matters, army representatives are not featured on the committees tasked to deal with matters such as the persecution of religious minorities, registration of madressahs, sectarianism and media curbs.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spent Saturday in meetings aimed at devising a concerted strategy to ensure the effective implementation of the 20-point NAP, agreed upon by all political parties. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the PM’s special assistants Irfan Siddiqui, Khawaja Zaheer Ahmed, Barrister Zafarullah and Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt were among those present.
Addressing the meeting, the PM said the government had resolved to decisively deal with `miscreant’ elements. “The government is committed to taking all the necessary steps that will ensure that the blood spilled in Peshawar is not in vain,” the PM was quoted as saying.
Interior minister to head 11 bodies
The PM also emphasised the need for seamless coordination between law-enforcement agencies as well as provincial and federal governments to achieve optimum results as quickly as possible.
The PM also ordered the activation of the National Counterterrorism Authority (Nacta) and summoned a meeting of the authority’s executive body on Wednesday, to be chaired by the interior minister.
The first draft of constitutional and legal amendments that would be introduced to try enemy combatants and hardcore terrorists involved in carrying out, abetting and financing acts of terrorism, was presented to the PM. He said the government would give legal protection to the valiant soldiers of the armed forces in their fight against terrorism.
The PM asked his legal team to share the draft with other political parties and obtain their input. He directed that instances of terrorism or sectarian violence against minorities should also be included in the schedule of offences against the terrorists.
Umbrella committee: An umbrella committee, headed by the PM himself, will supervise the overall implementation of the plan and include the federal ministers for interior, finance, planning, information, defence, Safron, the KP governor and the PM’s adviser on foreign affairs.
Militias: The interior minister heads this committee, formed to deal with the issue of eliminating armed militias from the country. This committee has DG ISI Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, DG IB Aftab Sultan, DG MO Maj Gen Aamer Riaz, all provincial home secretaries including Fata, GB and AJK; as well as the Nacta national coordinator and the interior secretary.
Hate speech: Chaudhry Nisar will also steer a second committee that will make recommendations on how to counter hate speech and extremist material. This committee includes the ministers for religious affairs, planning, information as well as the MD PTV, DG ISI, DG IB, all provincial home and Auqaf department secretaries, the Nacta coordinator and interior secretary.
Proscribed organisations: The committee tasked with stopping the re-emergence of proscribed organisations will also be led by the interior minister and will have the DG ISI, DG IB, all home secretaries and interior secretary as members.
Counter terrorism: To ensure the deployment of a dedicated counter-terrorism force by May 31, 2015, the interior minister will also lead efforts alongside the ministers for finance and defence, the DG MO, the secretaries of finance, interior and the NACTA coordinator.
Religious persecution: Another sub-committee was tasked report within three days on steps against religious persecution. Headed by the interior minister, the committee consists of the minister and secretary for religious affairs, the interior secretary, all provincial police chiefs and the IGs of GB, AJK and ICT, as well as all home and Auqaf department secretaries and the Nacta coordinator.
Madressahs: A committee on THE registration and regulation of madressahs, also led by the interior minister, will hold meetings with various organisations that oversee the affairs of over 30,000 and will have consist of the minister and secretary for religious affairs, State Minister for Education Balighur Rehman, all home and Auqaf department secretaries.
Terror on the internet: The interior minister will also supervise discussion to recommend steps for dismantling terrorists’ communication networks and suggest tangible measures against the abuse of internet and social media for terrorism. This is the only committee whose composition was not mentioned in the official press release.
Karachi: The committee tasked with dealing with the Karachi law and order situation includes the interior minister. He will be supported by Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, the Rangers DG and other senior officials.
Punjab: To check militancy in some parts of Punjab, Mr Khan will formulate strategy with input from the DG ISI, DG IB, home secretary and provincial police chiefs.
Sectarianism: The committee tasked with presenting recommendations on the subject dealing with sectarian terrorism, within a week, will be headed by the interior minister and consist of the DG IB, all provincial police officers, home secretaries and heads of counter terrorism departments as well as the interior secretary and Nacta coordinator.
Afghan refugees: The interior minister will make policy guidelines to deal with Afghan refugees with the help of the KP governor, Safron minister, Nadra chairman and other senior officials.
Terror financing: Under the supervision of finance minister, a committee has tasked to submit within three days recommendations on choking terrorists’ financial networks and terrorist organizations. This committee includes State Governor Bank Ashraf Mehmood Wathra, the DG ISI, interior secretary, FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa, FIA DG Akbar Hoti and finance secretary.
Media curbs: Another committee, chaired by Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and including the ministers for interior and planning and development, Irfan Siddiqui, Barrister Zafarullah Khan and the information secretary, will furnish recommendations on banning the glorification of terrorism and terrorist organisations through print and electronic media.
FATA reforms & IDPs’ return: Sardar Mehtab Khan has been given the convenership of the committee to brainstorm and present recommendations on administrative and development reforms in FATA with an immediate focus on return of IDPs, within a week. The ministers of finance, planning and development and Safron, economic affairs secretary, Corps Commander 11 Corps Peshawar and FATA chief secretary will also be part of the committee.
Justice system reforms: The information minister has been given a second committee, which will give its input on how to reform the criminal justice system and strengthen counter-terrorism departments. This committee features the interior secretary, provincial representatives, ISI and IB heads as well as the law secretary.
Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2014