ISLAMABAD: The army went public on Tuesday with its concerns about poor implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) and warned that efficacy of its counter-terrorism efforts could be undercut by inadequate supporting actions by civilian agencies.
Presiding over a corps commanders’ meeting at the General Headquarters, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif underlined the need for matching/complementary initiatives on the part of the government to secure long-term gains of the operations (against terrorists) and enduring peace in the country, according to the Inter Services Public Relations.
The meeting reviewed the country’s internal security situation and the progress on the implementation of the 20-point NAP.
Some of the areas pointed out by the army that require immediate attention are implementation of the NAP, completion of investigation of terrorism cases by joint investigation teams (JITs) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas reforms.
The effects of the operations, Gen Sharif warned, could be “undermined” if the critical areas remained unaddressed.
The note of caution from the corps commanders’ meeting came a day after Gen Sharif conveyed similar concerns to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his key ministers in a closed-door meeting at the Prime Minister House.
It is not the first time that such concerns have been publicly expressed by the army. But surprisingly not much progress could be made in the areas of concern in the implementation of the NAP, including stopping terrorism financing, action against banned organisations and undertaking madressah reforms. The army has also been emphasising on administrative actions by the government to improve governance in areas cleared of militants.
“Military operations have improved security situation in the country, but this progress cannot be sustained without matching betterment in governance and administration,” a source said while sharing the sense of the meeting of the army’s top brass.
The lack of progress in investigation by the JITs, the source said, was another major concern and it was noted that inquiries in high-profile cases in particular got bogged down.
Terrorism financing has been a major concern and Gen Sharif, during a visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, raised the issue during a meeting with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz from whom he had sought cooperation for countering terrorism and extremism.
Speaking at the corps commanders’ meeting, the army chief praised the achievements made during the ongoing Operation Zarb-i-Azb and intelligence-based operations against terrorist sleeper cells in the country, which had been launched to complement the operation in North Waziristan and Khyber agencies.
The army says 89 per cent of North Waziristan’s area has been cleared of militants in the Zarb-i-Azb operation and good progress is being made in Shawal Valley, which is the last phase of the military operation in the tribal agency. Operations in Khyber Agency have been concluded earlier.
Some 11,800 intelligence-based operations have been conducted in which about 17,800 suspected terrorists have been arrested.
The commanders also discussed the army chief’s five-day visit to the United States from Nov 15, in which he would discuss with US officials the regional situation, particularly Afghanistan.
Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2015