Written by Ifrah Waqar
Infographic design by Fatima Sureyya

16th December will forever be marked as a Black day in the history of Pakistan, and for more reasons than one. It was on this day in 1971 that Pakistan lost its Eastern Wing, and it was on this day again in the December of 2014 that an act of malice, cowardice and terrorism of the most heinous sort shook the country to its very foundations. Pakistan witnessed a tragedy of such magnitude that it had no precedence in its history; a group of terrorists stormed a school – the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar – and brutally massacred 148 innocent people – the majority of them children – in cold blood.

Background

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy at APS, an All Parties’ Conference (APC) in Peshawar was summoned. In the APC, all political parties resolved to fight terrorism and build consensus on issues of national importance. A 20 point ‘Action Plan’ was agreed upon. The decisions made during the APC were presented in a joint session of the Parliament. These decisions included a nationwide campaign against terrorism and extremism. It should be noted that before the APC meeting, the PM lifted the moratorium on death penalty in terrorism related cases.

In the light of the APC and the agreed 20 points, the government, political leadership and armed forces embarked upon the enormous task of evolving the strategies to undertake operations for tactical implementation of the hurriedly forwarded policy. As a result of NAP and a unanimous Parliamentary vote, military courts were established under the purview of the Constitutional Amendment (21st Amendment Bill 2015). NAP was implemented all across Pakistan. On 20 June, 2014, NAP also was approved by the Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

20 Points of the National Action Plan[1]

  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.

Execution of the National Action Plan

To ensure the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism and extremism, on 27th December, 2014 the government formed 15 committees under one umbrella committee, headed by the PM himself, to supervise the overall implementation of the plan.

The heads of the 15 committees included Federal Ministers for Interior, Finance, Information, Defence, States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), the KP Governor and the PM’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs.

Composition of NAP Committees

So.#  Name of Committees Headed by Member Composition
1 Militias Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control DG ISI, DG IB, DG MO, all provincial home secretaries including Fata, GB and AJK; as well as the NACTA national coordinator and the interior secretary.
2 Hate Speech Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control Ministers for religious affairs, planning, information as well as the MD PTV, DG ISI, DG IB, all provincial home and Auqaf department secretaries, the NACTA coordinator and interior secretary.
3 Proscribed Organizations Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control DG ISI, DG IB, all home secretaries and Interior Secretary as members.
4 Counter terrorism Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control Ministers for Finance and Defence, the DG MO, the secretaries of Finance, interior and the NACTA Coordinator.
5 Religious persecution Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control Minister and Secretary for religious affairs, the Interior Secretary, all provincial police chiefs and the IGs of GB, AJK and ICT, as well as all home and Auqaf department secretaries and the NACTA coordinator.
6 Madrassahs Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control Minister and Secretary for Religious Affairs, State Minister for Education, all Home and Auqaf department secretaries.
7 Terror on the Internet Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control This is the only committee whose composition was not mentioned in the Government’s official press release.
8 Karachi Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control Governor Sindh, Chief Minister Sindh, Rangers DG and other senior officials.
9 Punjab Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control Input from the DG ISI, DG IB, Home Secretary and provincial police chiefs
10 Sectarianism Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control DG IB, all provincial police officers, home secretaries and heads of counter terrorism departments as well as the interior secretary and NACTA coordinator
11 Afghan refugees Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control Governor Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa , SAFRON Minister, Nadra chairman and other senior officials
12 Terror financing Ministry of Finance Governor State Bank, the DG ISI, Interior Secretary, FBR Chairman, FIA DG and Finance Secretary
13 Media curbs Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Ministers for Interior and Planning and Development, and the information secretary
14 Justice system reforms Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Interior Secretary, Provincial Representatives, ISI and IB heads as well as the law secretary
15 FATA reforms & Internally Displaced Persons’ Return Governor Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa The Ministers of Finance, Planning and Development and SAFRON, Economic Affairs Secretary, Corps Commander 11 Corps Peshawar and FATA Secretary Chief.

Progress on Implementation on NAP’s 20 Points[2]

All the political parties vowed to fight terrorism and build consensus on issues of public importance. The government lifted the moratorium on death penalty and established military courts for the speedy trail of terrorism related cases. However, three years on, the progress on implementation of the plan seems to be lagging.

The progress on implementation of NAP’s 20 points is as follows:

 

Way forward:

It is the need of the hour that all factions unite hands to eliminate the threats posed to the nation rather securing their own goodwill. Pakistan is a resilient nation. The posed challenges are humongous but we as a nation have proved our mettle time and again.


[1] National Counter Terrorism Authority, http://nacta.gov.pk/NAPPoints20.htm

[2] Senate of Pakistan, p. 54, http://www.senate.gov.pk/uploads/documents/questions/1509438079_519.pdf

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