ISLAMABAD: A document prepared by the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta) presented to the Senate Standing Committee on Interior blam­ed the ‘peace talks’ with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for an increase in terror attacks across the country.

The Senate panel was informed that the dialogue initiated with the banned outfit by the government of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) “emboldened” the Taliban which increased their “footprint and magnitude of activities” during the corresponding period.

“TTP, during peace talks process gained considerable ground; increased its footprint and magnitude of activities,” the Nacta document said. It added the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan “gave impetus to TTP activities with its base [still] intact in Afghanistan”.

In an allusion to the resurgence of the terror outfit in Swat and adjoining areas, the report said the “presence [of TTP men] in Swat can be attributed to their efforts to gain pulse of locals and response by the state”. The document termed the Malakand division “vulnerable” to terrorism due to its “central location and access to settled areas”.

Senate panel informed militants appeared in Swat to gauge ‘pulse of locals and response by the state’

“Overall rise in terrorism index is being witnessed,” the report said. It, however, termed strong protests by all segments of society against the terror outfit as a positive development. It noted that locals, especially the political leadership active against the militants, needed to be supported and protected through [an] institutional mechanism.

It further said the presence of militants in the region “signifies resident facilitation in the area which need to be countered through collective efforts of [the] security apparatus”.

“Owing to winters and lack of support structure/logistics, militants are likely to move from mountainous regions,” it said, adding that militants at present had dispersed due to collective operation of the security forces and law enforcement agencies. Nacta added that any morphing in the local population in adjoining areas needed to be monitored, however.

The Senate panel was further told that the traditional routes of militants had also been tracked and cleared by the security forces and extra police were being deployed to keep a check on militant activities in the area.

The committee advised that further discussion on specific areas in terms of security should be discussed during in-camera sessions. The meeting also discussed peace rallies and an increase in the flow of tourists in Swat.

Terror incidents

As per the Nacta document, in August 2022, TTP militants held LEAs hostage in Swat’s tehsil Matta and released them after 12 hours. In September 2022, militants fired on police in Swat. TTP also claimed responsibility for an IED attack on a vehicle in which a member of the Peace Committee and two policemen were martyred.

The militants also abducted seven staffers of a cellular company and demanded at least Rs10 million in ransom.

Bill passed

Meanwhile, the Senate Standing Committee on Interior passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2022 unanimously after adopting new recommendations as discussed in the meeting. The Bill was passed by National Assembly and transmitted to the Senate.

The objective of the bill is to take cognisance of the rise in the cases of sexual exploitation and cybercrime against children in light of the constitutional and international commitments of the Government of Pakistan. The bill was passed unanimously with punishment on child pornography not less than 3 years and up to fourteen years as per the severity of the offence.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2022

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