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Civil, military leaderships begin talks to reinvigorate NAP

Updated August 11, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Civilian and military leaderships on Wednesday opened deliberations on injecting fresh momentum into what is being seen as a faltering National Action Plan (NAP) on counterterrorism.

The discussions held at the premier’s residence are being led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, with his key security and foreign policy aides — Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasser Janjua, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, ISI Director General Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry — and other senior officials participating.

This week’s deadly attacks in Quetta added urgency to the meeting — which was being planned for weeks and for which several preparatory sessions, two of which were chaired by Prime Minister Sharif, were held.

It was probably the first high-level security meeting involving the prime minister and the army chief that could not be completed in one session spanning hours. It would, therefore, continue for the second day on Thursday.

Meanwhile, another meeting for which chief ministers have also been invited is planned for Monday.

“Today the problems in NAP’s implementation and other concerns were discussed,” a source said about the meeting.

Key areas of concern are inaction against banned groups, madressah reforms, poor progress towards making Nacta (National Counter Terrorism Authority) operational, loopholes in criminal laws, inadequate capacity of civilian law enforcement agencies, terrorism financing, and little movement towards Fata reforms.

The army chief’s main concern is that the military’s kinetic operations in Fata and supporting actions in the rest of the country have now moved to the consolidation phase, but the civilian agencies are lagging behind. This could compromise the “achievements” made so far.

There is also a perception that implementation of NAP came to a standstill over the past few months due to PM Sharif’s health issues and the political problems he faces, according to a source. “The time thus lost has to be covered,” he added.

At the meeting, the military reportedly expressed concern that it was being subjected to public criticism because of failings of other government agencies with regard to the implementation of NAP.

The last meeting of the corps commanders and one of the security review sessions chaired by the prime minister had stressed the need for involving provincial law enforcement agencies in the next big push against terrorists.

The chief ministers have now been invited to a meeting on Monday for discussing capacity building of the provincial law enforcement agencies.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2016