Federal govt revisits NAP on counterterrorism | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

Intelligence agencies to help oversight and implementation

ISLAMABAD   –   In a major development, the federal government has revisited the 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) on Counterterrorism (CT) while reducing it to 14 major components with assigning intelligence agencies the key role for its “effective” oversight and implementation.

The government has quickly moved to revisit the NAP in the wake of re-emerging extremism and terrorism threats and the recent developments taking place in the region since Taliban seized power in Kabul in the middle of August, a senior government official told The Nation yesterday.

Then the PML-N government had rolled out the 20-point NAP on CT and Counter-Extremism (CE) soon after the deadly terrorist attack on Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 that had killed 150 people including at least 134 students. 

The new plan emphasizes on strengthening the legislative and legal oversight for espionage and subversion activities. One of the major points in the previous NAP that asked for empowering and strengthening of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), the country’s premier body on CT, has been excluded from the new document.  The revised NAP includes quick executions of capital punishment to convicted terrorists, no intolerance for militancy and no militant, armed as well as criminal gang would be allowed to operate, the capacity building and strengthening of counter terrorism departments (CTDs), and action against spread of terrorism through media (print, electronic & social media) and through other communication and cyber networks. 

The other major components of the revisited document comprise choking of terror financing of terror networks and proscribed organizations, taking effective measures against religious and sectarian persecution and terrorism, regulation and registration of religious seminaries (madrassas), and to bring reforms in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Aras (FATA) which have now been merged in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The reforms in merged districts include capacity building of law enforcement agencies (LEAs), holding of local bodies elections there, and bringing land reforms in these troubled areas of the country. 

The themes of the new NAP also contain repatriation of Afghan refugees and dealing with their issues, taking the reconciliation process in Balochistan to its logical end, bringing reforms in criminal justice system, institutionalization and implementation of Counter Violence Extremism (CVE) Policy, and to curb increasing trend of illegal spectrum.

For effective implementation of the revised 14-point CT document, a separate NAP secretariat has been established under the supervision of Secretary Interior Yousaf Naseem Khokhar.  

According to the government official, not only the task has been given to the Ministry of Interior for effective implementation of some of the points of revised NAP but also country’s different intelligence agencies have been assigned to monitor and help in implementing some of the major components of CT and CE plan. For the first time, a separate contact person has been appointed for each point of the NAP for better coordination, oversight and implementation, he added.

Those points who have been excluded from the new NAP include formation of special trial courts under the supervision of Pakistan Army, strengthening of NACTA, establishing and deploying a dedicated counter-terrorism force, zero tolerance for militancy in Punjab, and taking Karachi operation to its logical end. The last two points have already become redundant while the component about establishment of military courts has remained a controversial issue in the past.

On September 9, the apex committee on NAP comprising both civil and military leadership had met under the chair of Prime Minister Imran Khan to review progress on various points of NAP. The meeting decided to “fast track implementation of various measures to meet emergent security challenges including cyber security, espionage, judicial and civil reforms, capacity building of law enforcement agencies, counter violent extremism and other issues having a direct bearing on national security,” said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office at that time. The committee had also approved most of the recommendations of NACTA on policy review of NAP.

On December 21, 2014, a group of experts, both civilian and military, after a lengthy meeting had proposed both kinetic-and non-kinetic CT and CE measures in the form of NAP that had got unanimous approval of all major political parties in the country as well as the parliament.

However, NAP has been facing a problem of its political ownership since its inception resulting military took over its kinetic measures related to CT.

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