ISLAMABAD: The government has zero tolerance for terrorism, Prime Minister Imran Khan declared on Monday, calling for swift prosecution of terrorists “to set an example”.
Chairing a meeting of the apex committee on the National Action Plan (NAP) in the federal capital, the prime minister emphasised that a multi-pronged approach and vigorous implementation of NAP were required to thwart the threat of terrorism.
The meeting was attended by Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, chief ministers of all the provinces, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf, federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Asad Umar, chief secretaries, inspectors general of the police, and senior civil and military officers.
The committee strongly condemned last week’s Peshawar attack and offered condolences for the martyrs. In the devastating gun and bomb attack, 57 Shia men lost their lives and 194 others sustained injuries inside the Koocha Risaldar mosque shortly before Friday prayers in Peshawar’s old city neighbourhood. The death toll later rose to 62 with the demise of five of the 10 critically injured victims.
During the NAP meeting, the prime minister stressed the need for proactive measures to tackle such incidents in future. He noted that the elements trying to destabilise the country would never succeed, as the entire nation was united to defeat the menace of terrorism.
The public, he said, had realised that these elements were trying to create disharmony based on sectarianism and hate speech, and made it clear that the state would never allow them to succeed.
The NAP’s apex committee stressed the need for strengthening the National Counter Terrorism Authority’s (Nacta) role to coordinate measures required to combat terrorism and capacity building of counterterrorism departments.
The meeting noted that provinces needed to allocate more resources for conducting effective investigations by adopting scientific techniques and setting up modern forensic labs. The need to accord a conclusive end to terrorism cases in courts of law was emphasised.
Secretary Interior Division Yusuf Naseem Khokhar presented a detailed briefing on the implementation status of NAP, including measures taken to choke terror financing, countering violent extremism, investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases, intolerance towards militancy, capacity building of law enforcement agencies, regulation and registration of seminaries, the merger of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Area, reforms in the criminal justice system, eliminating sectarian terrorism, curbing smuggling, narco-traffic and human trafficking, the reconciliation process in Balochistan and issues related to refugees.
The meeting was briefed that most action points had been satisfactorily implemented; however, support from provincial governments is required for inter-provincial issues.
Terrorist group identified
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday disclosed that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police had identified a “big terrorist group” and were set to get hold of it.
The disclosure came two days after the minister announced that all three suspects involved in the explosion at a Shia mosque in Peshawar’s Koocha Risaldar area had been identified.
Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, Mr Ahmed said certain foreign forces were hatching conspiracies to destabilise Pakistan.
The minister also announced three local holidays starting from March 22 to 24 in light of the upcoming meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers scheduled to be held in the federal capital.
He said foreign ministers from important Islamic countries would attend the event. A “historic” military parade would take place on March 23 in which a squadron of 25 multirole J-10C combat planes would take part in the fly-past, he said.
Mr Ahmed said Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the country an independent foreign policy. “He has put across a message to imperialist forces that out territory will not be used for terrorist attacks,” he remarked.
Pakistan was moving towards a “more neutral foreign policy” under Mr Khan’s leadership, he said, adding that the country should aim to organise itself further on matters of foreign relations.
Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2022