ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: A day after the expected legislative battle over impending military courts was averted by winning over the parliamentary parties at the government-convened All Party Conference, special panels have been constituted for all the four provinces to oversee implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism.
The panels, to be called Provincial Apex Committees (PACs), would include the civilian leadership of the province concerned and the commanders of the Army corps in that province. These PACs would act as a coordination forum between the civilian and military leadership at the provincial level for the implementation of NAP.
It was unclear who constituted these PACs, whose establishment was announced by the Inter Services Public Relations and the first meeting of one of these panels was held at the corps headquarters, Lahore. The Army, however, insists the civilian government was in the lead for NAP’s execution.
The establishment of PACs, according to the ISPR, marked the beginning of NAP’s implementation phase.
One of the first tasks before the PACs would be to develop a security plan for every province depending on the local situation, besides taking into account capacity and coordination issues.
Confusion surrounds formation of the bodies in the absence of a govt notification
Civil-military coordination at the provincial level was identified as a major gap, which has now been addressed with the setting up of PACs.
Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif would attend the inaugural meetings of all the four PACs, military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa said.
The first of the PACs to meet was that of Punjab. NAP had in particular called for dealing with militancy in Punjab – an issue that has so far been ignored.
The meeting that took place at the corps headquarters in Lahore on Saturday was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his team; and commanders of all corps in Punjab.
“COAS Gen Raheel Sharif attended the PAC meeting to underscore the importance of civil-military coordination mechanism,” the military spokesman said.
ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar also participated in the meeting.
“The forum reviewed the prevalent internal security situation in the province in the context of National Action Plan,” an ISPR statement said.
Speaking at the inaugural session of Punjab PAC, Gen Sharif said, “Failure to eliminate all manifestations of extremism and terrorism at the grass roots level in our country is not an option, no matter what the cost.”
He said Army would extend all out support to provincial governments in their counterterrorism actions and called for “whole hearted support” of society and seamless cooperation between the intelligence agencies.
Gen Sharif hoped that the consensus achieved at the APC on Friday would “serve as a force multiplier”.
Zulqernain Tahir adds from Lahore: Shahbaz Sharif appreciated the support extended by the Army and reiterated the resolve of the Punjab government to cleanse the province of terrorism and extremism.
He emphasised the importance of joint execution of a comprehensive security plan within laid down parameters and timelines.
Sources said the Punjab government in collaboration with intelligence agencies would soon launch an operation in the province to dismantle terrorists’ network and support.
Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2015