LAHORE: MPAs and civil society activists have expressed concern over deficiencies in the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) and less powers of parliamentary committees, formed to ensure provincial oversight of the plan.

The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) arranged a workshop on the 20-point NAP for the Punjab Assembly Standing Committee on Home Affairs at a local hotel on Wednesday.

Committee members MPAs Makhdoom Syed Muhammad Masood Alam (chairman), Laal Hussain, Moin Nawaz Warraich and Rana Muhammad Afzal, former federal secretary for interior Tasneem Noorani, Pildat President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob and others were present.

Mr Alam said a number of laws relating to counter-terrorism measures had been passed through the efforts of the committee but they did not have the authority to call its own meetings to hold the government departments accountable on the NAP implementation.

Mr Afzal said that Pakistan had paid a heavy price in the war on terror but its achievements had not been recognised by the world. He emphasised the active role of public in winning the war against terror and reaffirmed the resolve of the home affairs committee to ensure the implementation of NAP in the province.

Mr Hussain said parliamentarians were unable to perform their legislative and oversight duties because they were to deal with day-to-day issues and conflicts in their constituencies. He said that empowering local bodies would be very beneficial to overcome hurdles as MPAs would focus on improving the legislation in the assembly for countering terror.

Senior Secretary of the Punjab Assembly Rai Mumtaz Husain Babar said that lack of authority for the standing committees to hold meetings on their own was a major hurdle to oversight the issues.

He said they would discuss the implementation of NAP with the minister concerned and the speaker for a periodic review of progress.

Mr Noorani said that while progress had been made in Punjab on NAP, national leaders should take ownership of the implementation of such a programme. He said national focal body NACTA had not become fully operational resulting in hurdles in co-ordination between provinces and federal government on NAP.

Earlier, Mr Mehboob said that periodic progress reports based on data should be issued by provincial and federal governments and parliamentary committees should take responsibility for NAP oversight.

He said NAP served as the landmark consensus blueprint for combating terrorism and violent extremism in Pakistan. The 20-point NAP has been described, both by civil and military leaders, as the most important road map for the struggle against terrorism in the country.

About NAP implementation, Pildat highlights the need for parliament and provincial assemblies, especially the Punjab Assembly, to take an active role in periodically reviewing the progress of NAP, and holding the government and all relevant institutions accountable.

According to Pildat, greater transparency and more frequent public reporting on the progress of implementation will promote public confidence in governments and their ability to effectively implement NAP.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2017

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