National Security Committee deliberates upon rise in terrorism

Promising to respond with full force to those challenging the country¸ the National Security Committee (NSC) on Friday described the terrorists as the “enemies of Pakistan”, expressing an unequivocal opinion.

In a statement issued by the PM Office after a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, it was stated that the participants an “unequivocal opinion” that Pakistan’s national interests would not be compromised and no one be allowed to harm national security.

“The meeting expressed determination that terrorists are enemies of Pakistan. The entire nation is united on one narrative against terrorism and terrorists. Those who challenge Pakistan will get a full-force response,” the statement read.

The huddle chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was attended by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as well as military/ intelligence chiefs.

Amid rising tide of terrorism, the Friday’s meeting came after the suicide bombing in Islamabad and the incident at the CTD’s interrogation centre in Bannu while the assassination of law enforcers and intelligence officials as well as attacks on security forces have also become a routine in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

During the meeting, the heads of intelligence institutions gave a detailed briefing to the participants on the law and order situation in the country, the recent wave of terrorism, and steps to tackle it.

Meanwhile, Dar shared the details about the economic challenges and the government’s strategies to counter them, the statement said.

“Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar briefed the meeting on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s relationship with the interim government in Kabul.”

“The basic interests of Pakistan’s survival, security, and development will be protected with great courage, consistency, and steadfastness,” it was made clear.

On the other hand, the participants also paid tribute to the sacrifices of the martyrs against terrorism, expressed sympathy and condolence to their families, and collectively prayed for the elevation of their ranks.

However, the NSC meeting will continue on Monday, January 2, in which further decisions are to be taken in light of the proposals.

NAP revival

Sources had earlier reported the country’s leadership was briefed on how to ensure implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP), sources say, as the rise in terrorism acts by the Taliban forced the government to ponder on ways and means to tackle the threat.

Also on the agenda was the topic of enhancing and sustaining coordination among the Centre and the provinces through NACTA (National Counter Terrorism Authority), as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has been facing criticism for its role.

Although being ignored completely during the past few years, especially under the PTI government, the NAP – a comprehensive 20-point document – had been agreed upon after lengthy consultations among different stakeholders in 2014 when Nawaz Sharif was in power. It sets short-term as well as medium-and-long-term goals to tackle the menace of terrorism. 

On Thursday, Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir briefed Shehbaz on the latest developments at the PM Office after which the NSC meeting was summoned.

Coordination

Rana Sana had told a private channel that suggestions would be tabled before the NSC and implemented after approval to deal with the situation in case any provincial government, as the provincial setup did in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, does not cooperate to deal with or resorts to politicking on the issue of terrorism.  

Terror activities

Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups like the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the militant Islamic State group, and Gul Bahadur Group executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the TTP.

Meanwhile, several countries like the US, UK, Australia and Saudi Arabia have issued advisories, asking their nationals to restrict movements in Pakistan and avoid non-essential trips.

The other issue the NSC will deliberate upon, according to a source, is the rise in cross-border attacks from Afghanistan.

Although, the Afghan Taliban have long seen Pakistan as their bridge to the international community, but they aren’t ready to relent on the traditional Afghan position on the nearly 2600-km-long border separating the two countries.

These differences in the status of the border have often led to military skirmishes with loss of lives on both sides.

What is NAP?

1. Implementation of death sentence of those convicted in cases of terrorism.

2. Special trial courts under the supervision of Army. The duration of these courts would be two years.

3. Militant outfits and armed gangs will not be allowed to operate in the country.

4. NACTA, the anti-terrorism institution will be strengthened.

5. Strict action against the literature, newspapers and magazines promoting hatred, extremism, sectarianism and intolerance.

6. Choking financing for terrorist and terrorist organizations.

7. Ensuring against re-emergence of proscribed organizations.

8. Establishing and deploying a dedicated counter-terrorism force.

9. Taking effective steps against religious persecution.

10. Registration and regulation of religious seminaries.

11. Ban on glorification of terrorists and terrorist organizations through print and electronic media.

12. Administrative and development reforms in FATA with immediate focus on repatriation of IDPs.

13. Communication network of terrorists will be dismantled completely.

14. Measures against abuse of internet and social media for terrorism.

15. Zero tolerance for militancy in Punjab.

16. Ongoing operation in Karachi will be taken to its logical end.

17. Balochistan government to be fully empowered for political reconciliation with complete ownership by all stakeholders.

18. Dealing firmly with sectarian terrorists.

19. Formulation of a comprehensive policy to deal with the issue of Afghan refugees, beginning with registration of all refugees.

20. Revamping and reforming the criminal justice system.

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