PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Apex Committee on Monday decided to increase the powers of the counter-terrorism department to address the issue of extortion and gave the green light for necessary amendments to the law for the purpose.

The committee met here with Chief Minister Ali Amin Khan Gandapur in the chair.

The other participants included Peshawar Corps Commander Lt-Gen Hassan Azhar Hayat, provincial chief secretary Nadeem Aslam Chaudhry, police chief Akhtar Hayat Khan and other senior officials, according to an official statement.

It added that the forum declared extortion and drug peddling the “areas of most pressing concern for the province” and decided to set up a task force comprising all law-enforcement agencies and increase the powers of the CTD to address the issue.

Observes extortion, illegal forex trade, smuggling fuelling militancy

The committee agreed in principle to legislate in that respect, according to the statement.

It also reiterated its resolve to handle extortionists and narcotics peddlers with an iron hand and agreed on strict action against the government officials involved in the goods’ smuggling.

The participants agreed to reinforce checkpoints and carry out an indiscriminate crackdown on smugglers.

They also decided about the clampdown on the supply of drugs to educational institutions and said a modern rehabilitation centre would be set up in the province for drug addicts.

The apex body decided that the law would be amended to hand down exemplary punishments to narcotics dealers, while action against drug barons would be intensified.

It observed that extortion, illegal hundi and hawala businesses, smuggling, fake documentation, and drug smuggling were fuelling militancy, and therefore, those activities should be effectively checked.

The participants called for better coordination between federal and provincial entities for the purpose and recommended that the meeting of the Central Apex Committee be held in Peshawar to address the issues related to the centre.

They also examined the profiling of non-custom paid vehicles and registration of seminaries in the province and directed federal and provincial authorities and intelligence agencies to carry out a coordinated action against illegal activities.

The committee agreed to set up a “track and trace system to control the smuggling of banned and illegal substances” and said district committees would be strengthened to implement the apex committee’s decisions.

It also ordered the formulation of a plan to strengthen the excise, police, customs, Anti-Narcotics Force, and other agencies.

The participants decided to take up the issue of NCP vehicles in the province with federal authorities.

They also discussed the illegal use of explosive substances in the province and decided to outlaw the use of fireworks at weddings and other functions, according to the statement.

The apex body also decided about the audit of permits issued for explosives-related businesses and the strengthening of the role of the district explosive committees.

Officials informed the meeting that around 300,000 illegal aliens had so far voluntarily returned to their homes, while the profiling of the Afghan Citizen Card holders was under way.

They also said Rs6 billion worth of smuggled goods and 78 tons of contraband were confiscated in the last one year, while Rs1.39 billion currency notes were seized in actions against the illegal hundi-hawala business.

The officials said the province registered 3,571 seminaries, blocked 100,000 illegal mobile SIM cards, and profiled 100,000 NCP vehicles.

The chief minister called for better coordination among civil and military agencies in the province to improve the law and order situation.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2024

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