Govt 'reviving' Nacta, reviewing National Action Plan to counter terrorism: Marriyum

Published May 20, 2022
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb speaks at the National Assembly on Friday. —DawnNewsTV
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb speaks at the National Assembly on Friday. —DawnNewsTV

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb on Friday said that the government has decided to "revive" the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) and was reviewing the National Action Plan to counter terrorism in Pakistan.

In a speech at the National Assembly today, she noted that terrorism is once again on the rise in the country. "But we need to note some things here.

"In the last four years, not a single meeting of Nacta, which is chaired by the prime minister, was held. In 2014, Nawaz Sharif had prepared Pakistan's first national security policy," she recalled.

Read: Nacta drafts first-ever policy to counter violent extremism

After the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar attack, Aurangzeb continued, the government had prepared the National Action Plan to counter terrorism which was unanimously passed by Parliament.

According to that plan, for the first time, all the provinces, law enforcement agencies, the people of Pakistan and federal units had decided to come together and fight terrorism, the minister stated.

"But for four years, the plan was completely ignored because of the ego of one person (Imran Khan)," she claimed. "Whether it was water, polio or terrorism, that man wasn't ready to talk to anyone. He never found it necessary."

Aurangzeb said that this was the reason why the provinces and the Centre were "detached" for the last few years. "On terrorism, the federal government can talk on a policy level. It can talk about law enforcement agencies. But the role of provinces is the most important."

And, she stressed, that is clearly defined in the National Action Plan. "The entire mechanism of coordination [between the provinces and the Centre] has been outlined in it," she said, adding that this was why a decline in terrorist activities was seen during 2015 and 2018.

But during the PTI government, the finances and coordination over the plan were "completely halted" because "Imran Khan thought it was a waste of time", she claimed, calling it the main reason for the Chinese suicide blast and other terrorist activities.

Read more: New anti-extremism policy to keep tabs on law enforcement ranks

Moving on, the minister stated that the first meeting Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired after assuming power was on terrorism. "We are now, once again, reviewing the National Action Plan. Meanwhile, the interior ministry has completed the infrastructure of Nacta and a meeting will be called next week," Aurangzeb added.

Concluding her speech, she highlighted that to develop a strong narrative internationally, it is important to "set the house in order" first and strengthen the infrastructure to counter terrorism in the country.

Spate of terrorist attacks

Marriyum's comments come as the country has been hit by a spate of terror attacks. Three bomb blasts have been reported in Karachi in as many weeks.

On April 26, a suicide attack outside the University of Karachi's (KU) Confucius Institute killed four people, including these Chinese teachers. The incident happened as a van, carrying staff members, was about to enter the Confucius Institute, located next to the commerce department. The banned Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The second attack in the city took place in the Saddar area on May 12. One passerby was killed and at least nine injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in a motorbike went off. Like BLA, the outlawed Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA) had claimed responsibility of the attack in a message over social media platforms.

Yesterday, Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Deputy Inspector General Syed Khurram Ali shared that the alleged mastermind of the attack was trained in Iran and received instructions and money from SRA head Asghar Shah.

The third explosion took place earlier this week on Monday when an IED blasted near the Iqbal Market and New Memon Mosque in Karachi's Kharadar area claiming one life and leaving 11 injured.

The police are investigating the attacks as the security in the metropolis has been beefed up.

On Sunday, two Sikh traders were gunned down on the outskirts of Peshawar. On Thursday, a soldier was martyred in an attack on a convoy of security forces in South Waziristan tribal district.

In a statement, the ISPR said Hawaldar Mohammad Sanwar, a resident of Jhelum district, lost his life when an IED blast struck a military convoy in the Makeen area.

Meanwhile, attackers lobbed a grenade at a girls examination centre in Mirali town of North Waziristan tribal district. However, no one was harmed. In another incident, a bomb attack targeted a vehicle of two teachers of the Mirali Degree College near the Bakakhel police station on Bannu-Mir Ali Road.

Five days ago, three Pakistan Army soldiers and at least three children were martyred in a suicide blast in the vicinity of Miranshah, North Waziristan.

In a brief statement, the military had said the intelligence agencies were investigating to find out about [the] suicide bomber and his handlers/facilitators.

Later, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had also condemned the suicide attack and expressed grief over the lives lost.

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