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Joint Intelligence Directorate to be functional soon, Senate told

Updated Dec 23, 2016 10:40am

ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the misgivings of critics that the National Action Plan (NAP) has turned out to be a ‘No Action Plan’, Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rahman on Thursday indicated that the Joint Intelligence Directorate (JID), which would ensure efficient coordination among all intelligence agencies, would soon be operational.

Winding up a discussion in the Senate on an adjournment motion for debate on an inquiry commission’s report on the Aug 8 Quetta carnage, he disclosed that a Brigadier-level officer had been appointed as director general of the JID that would function under the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta).

He informed the house that a draft counterterrorism bill was ready and would soon be presented in parliament for passage. He said the budget of Nacta, which was Rs95 million in 2013-14 and 2014-15, had been increased to Rs1.25 billion in 2015-16 and to Rs1.559bn in the financial year 2016-17.

Sharing details about progress of Nacta, Mr Rahman said that 1,365 cases had been registered across the country over hate speeches; 2,454 people had been arrested and 70 shops sealed after recovery of hate literature. Likewise, 1,526 cases about misuse of loudspeaker were registered and thousands of arrests made.

He said that over 400 accounts had been frozen for dubious transactions and over Rs300m seized. He said the list of fourth schedulers had been shared with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) and also sent to the immigration and passports department to ensure that those on the list did not get passports.

The minister said that 2,325 religious seminaries, where dubious activities were going on, had been shut down, adding that mapping of religious seminaries in Islamabad and Punjab had been completed. He said proposed Fata reforms were near completion and the cabinet would soon approve the reforms package. Ten websites of the banned outfits were blocked.

He said that terrorism-related incidents had declined by 80pc and those of targeted killings by 69pc in Karachi.

“Action speaks louder than words,” he said and insisted that NAP was working.

The discussion on the Quetta carnage started with a hard-hitting speech by Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan who criticised the reaction of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to the report compiled by a Supreme Court judge and accused the government of trying to divide the institution of judiciary.

He recalled that chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah had been isolated and sent home and one of the characters of the ‘entire drama’ (Rafiq Tarar) had been later appointed as president and the other (Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui) had now been appointed as governor of Sindh.

He said it was a message that those who sided with the government could get lucrative offices, adding that it would be a testing time for Chief Justice-designate Saqib Nisar as well.

Demanding resignation of the interior minister, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said the former should be “kicked out of the cabinet if he does not resign”.

Nihal Hashmi of the PML-N asked why the then president and the prime minister had not resigned when the US commandos launched an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty by carrying out an operation in Abbottabad.

Retired Gen Abdul Qayyum of the ruling party said there was a need to remain united to fight and defeat terrorism. He said the situation was improving with every passing day and recalled the days when it was not possible to hold the national day parade because of security concerns.

He was of the view that there was no bar on holding meeting with leaders of the outlawed organisations and said the set of restrictions for them was different.

Mushahidullah Khan, the parliamentary leader of the PML-N, said that after the Abbottabad incident then president Asif Ali Zardari had declared it “a great victory”. He referred to the Supreme Court judgement which found three political parties, including the PPP and MQM, involved in terrorism, targeted killings and extortion.

He said that those criticising the interior minister for meeting Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi should recall the days when the man used to travel in the plane of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

NCA bill

The Senate passed the National Command Authority (NCA) amendment bill that will change the status of employees of strategic organisations under the authority and take away from them the right of appeal to courts, including the Supreme Court, on removal of service.

The bill has already been passed by the National Assembly.

“Provided that notwithstanding anything contained in any judgement, decree, order, direction or declaration of any court, including the Supreme Court of Pakistan, or in this Act or in any other law for the time being in force, the rules, instructions or orders already made, or which may be made, in respect of the employees and strategic organisations of the Authority shall be non-statutory unless approved by the federal government and published in the official gazette of Pakistan,” an amendment to Section 15 of the National Command Authority Act, 2010, reads.

The Supreme Court had ruled in January that the service rules of employees of strategic organisations were statutory and they could thus approach the court for arbitration.

An appeal against the verdict is still pending.

Opposing the amendment to the NCA Act, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that it was a sad day to witness strings being pulled from behind to get this controversial amendment passed.

Heavens would not fall if an independent special service tribunal was set up to address grievances and give the NCA employees bare minimum sense of self-respect and satisfaction, he said.

Later talking to Dawn, Mr Babar regretted that parliament had allowed itself to block the possible rejection of review petition pending before the Supreme Court.

“The parliament failed to stand up against the undermining of a judicial process and the fundamental rights of tens of thousands of employees. It will be a great pity if tomorrow parliament is undermined by the same elements and no one stands for it,” he said.

The house will meet on Friday (today) at 10am.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2016