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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.


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

Sr. No. NAP Status
1 Execution of Convicted Terrorist No. of persons Executed under ATA/PPC: 483
2 Special Trial Courts 11Courts Notified

388 Cases transfered to STC

3 Action against Armed Militias Visibility of armed militias and display of weapons curtailed. Terrorist Killed: 2127

Terrorist Arrested: 5884

4 Stregthening and activation of NACTA
Office Space Renovation of two buildings for housing NACTA in progress
Budget 2016/17 Demanded: 1559.0 M

Released: 1545.5 M

Budget 2107/18 Demanded 1528.727 M

Approved: 143.019 M

HR Recruitments in progress
5 Countering hate speech and extremist meterial Hate Speech/Materials

Cases registered: 1353

Persons Arrested: 2528

Shops sealed: 70

Misuse of Loudspeakers Cases Registered:17795 Persons Arrested: 18520

Equipments confiscated: 7942

6 Choking financing for terrorists and terrorists organizations FERA/Hawala Hundi Cases: 777; Arrests: 1060, Recovery: 1320.705 Millions

Anti-money Laundering Cases:336; Arrests: 483

Suspicious Transaction Reports: STRs Received from EMU: 176; Converted into Cases:32; Closed: 14; Under Process:130 Counter Financing for Terrorists (CFT) Units established in all provincial CTDs.

Counter Financing for Terrorists (CFT) to be made an integral part of provincial investigations.

National Task Force (NTF) on Countering Financing for Terrorist (CFT) with reps from all stakeholders, set-up in June 2017 for effective coordination on policy and operaitons.

15 amendments made in (AMLA 2010) in 2015.

7 Ensuring against re-emergence of proscribed organizations/Individuals Categorize: (63+3) 164 UNSCR Common 13 4th Schedule Total Activists: 8333

Number of accounts freezed: 5023

Amount frozen: Rs. 150 Million

Following actions have been taken against Proscribed Persons: Passport Embargo

Freezing of Bank Accounts

Ban on Financial support and services by financial institutes. Arms license Embargo

Provincial Governments requested to take legal action under ATA 1997

8 Establishing a Counter Terrorism Force UNIT                      Sanctioned         Present

ICT                          1000                       500

Punjab                    5000                       4300

Sindh                      1000                       728

Bal                           3000                       1000

KP                           2206                       2080

GB                           –                               168

AJK                         500                         260

9 Taking steps against religious persecution Data collection in progress, to be verified and then put up for further action
10 Registration and regulation of Madrassas Two seperate Registration and Data form for Madaris developed in consultation with ITMP

Committees under FBISE and HEC formed with representation from ITMP for grant of equivalence degree awarding status to Wafaqs.

11 Ban on glorification of terrorism in media Strict implementatoin of ban on electronic media of acivists of proscribed organizations.

Any violation is instantly reported to concerned quarters and actions taken.

Visible improvement noticed.

12 FATA Reforms The Federal Cabinet has approved in principle recommendations of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) reforms committee.
13 Dismantling communication networks of terrorists 98.3 million SIMs blocked

Biometric Verification system in place.

14 Tangible measures against abuse of internet and Social media for terrorism Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act 2015 passed.

937 URLs and 10 websites of proscribed organizations have been blocked by MoIT

15 Militancy in Punjab Visible improvement inlaw & order situation in Punjab.
16 Taking the ongoing operation in Karachi to its logical conclusion Registered significant decline in terrorism, crime and improvement in law and order i.e.

Target Killing down by 97% Murder down by 87% Terrorism down by 98% Robberies down by 52% Weapons recovered 33.37%

17 Steps towards Baluchistan Reconciliation Surrender and Reconciliation/Rehabliation of Facraris/outlaws in progress.
18 Ending Sectarian Terrorism No. Year Incidents

1                              2011                       70

2                              2012                       185

3                              2013                       127

4                              2014                       176

5                              2015                       79

6                              2016                       37

7                              2017                       02

Total                                      676

Visible decline in sectarian terrorism

19 Resolving issues of Afghan Refugees The Federal Cabinet approved the Repatriation and Management Policy

POR cards valid upto 31-12-2017, visa forms developed. Tripartite aggrement for voluntary repatriation has been extended for one more year.

The ministry of SAFRON in consultation with NADRA has finalized and Operational Plan for documentation of unregistered Afghan refugees.

Draft National Refugee Law has been developed and shared with relevant stakeholders.

20 Revamping the Criminal Justice System NACTA conducted Nine (9) meetings of Provincial Representatives since May, 2016 and one week workshop of the Federal Core Group in April, 2017 and developed Recommendation for Revamping of Criminal Justice system, its implementation plan, along with responsibilities, timelines and cost elements, Sector wise (Police, Prosecution, Prison, Parole & Probation and Judiciary), through consensus and in coordination with provinces, ICT, GB and AJK. These recommendations, approved by Interior Minister, have now been submitted to Prime Minister.

Poll Question: Do you think that the deadly Taliban attack on an Afghan army base in Mazar-i-Sharif raises serious questions on the capacity of Afghan forces in the light of recent regional developments?

The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) recently generated an online poll to assess public opinion pertaining to the capacity of Afghan forces in dealing with internal turmoil the country is facing. This can be accredited to poor governance, corruption, and weak rule of law in Afghanistan. Since the disputed 2014 presidential election, friction between the two halves of the “National Unity Government” has prevented the government from implementing widely supported reforms, notably against corruption. This has deepened public discontent and questions over the government’s legitimacy.
Had the deadly Taliban attack on Afghan army base in Mazar-i-Sharif raised questions on its capacity to deal with terrorism?

A majority of 74.07% of the respondents expressed that the attack raised serious questions on the capability of Afghan armed forces in dealing with Afghan Taliban. Furthermore, it also raised questions on the effectiveness of the presence of foreign forces on Afghan soil. While 7.41% viewed it as a part of the normal course of happenings which does not make a big difference. However, only 17.6% of the respondents had no clear idea on the matter.

The general security architecture implies fundamental problems for the Afghan state. The three major security institutions, the army, the police and the intelligence service, have overlapping competences and responsibilities. They have units that have been structured, trained and equipped for internal use and the fight against the insurrection movement. In addition, all three are in addition to the insurgency control also police were tasked and have domestic, intelligence-working departments. This is the cause of considerable rivalries that have long since extended to a struggle for resources, recognition and – against the backdrop of foreseeable budget reductions – a long-term existential right. The Afghan security forces have been facing significant challenges, in particular regarding operational capacity. Shortcomings in the areas of command and control, leadership and logistics, and high attrition rates, have a significant impact on morale, recruitment and sustainability.

The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) recently generated an online poll to assess public opinion pertaining to the need of strengthening navy’s capacity after operationalization of Gwadar Port. Challenges lie beside opportunities. In order to provide safe maritime environment, the maintenance of good order at sea becomes imperative. The need is further augmented in the wake of increased sea trade due to CPEC. Pakistan Navy is focusing to bring in qualitative as well as quantitative enhancements to ensure safe maritime trade.

A majority of 76.5% of the respondents expressed that Pakistan Navy should strengthen its capacity to cope with the challenges CPEC is likely to face. While 5.9% viewed the current capacity as sufficient to deal with any possible threat, a mere 17.6% of the respondents had no clear idea on the matter.

In the changing dynamics of global architecture, the sea politics is getting complex with more focus on commercial activities and economic prosperity. Gwadar port is the warm water and deep sea port of Pakistan. It sits astride the busiest Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and holds two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves. The port holds great strategic and economic significance for Pakistan. It is third important deep sea port of Pakistan after Karachi and Qasim ports. It is located at the cross junctions of international sea shipping and oil trade routes. Gwadar can act as an international trade hub for Pakistan. Gwadar port would connect three regions, i.e. Central Asia, South Asia and Middle East. It would open new job opportunities and help in the development of Baluchistan. Pakistan would be able to explore minerals, hydrocarbons, oil and gas resources of CARs. The port will attract foreign investment and tourism. It would provide foreign reserves and free trade zones and special economic zones (SEZ) that would help in the economic prosperity of Baluchistan and Pakistan. It would help to increase Pakistan’s trade and commercial activities particularly in Baluchistan province, so provincial grievances will be addressed.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a framework of regional connectivity. CPEC will not only benefit China and Pakistan but will have a positive impact on the regional countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics, and even Russia. The enhancement of geographical linkages having improved road, rail and air transportation system with frequent and free exchanges of growth and people to people contact, enhancing understanding through academic, cultural and regional knowledge and culture, activity of higher volume of flow of trade and businesses, producing and moving energy to have more optimal businesses and enhancement of co-operation by win-win model will result in well connected, integrated region of shared destiny, harmony and development. CPEC is journey towards economic regionalization in the globalized world. It founded peace, development, and win-win model for all of them. The Corridor is hope of better region of the future with peace, development and growth of economy.

Before analyzing the poll result, it is important to understand the significance of the sixth census. Though efforts were made in 2008 and 2010 to hold the census, however, the deteriorating law and order proved to be the impeding factors, among others. The sixth census officially began on 15 March 2017 after the break of nineteen years, which would survey the demographics changes in order to reorganize the country in the political, economic and social aspects.

The Center for Pakistan and Gulf Studies generated an online poll to assess public opinion on the implication of the sixth census. According to the result of this poll, 73.68 percent of the participants seem optimistic about the census and its role in regulating the unregistered populations in addition to alleviating the law and order across the country. However, 10.53 appear to disagree with the estimated benefits or expected goals of the census and 15.78 percent of the respondents showed reluctance to give an opinion.

Poll Question:Do you think the result of the sixth census in Pakistan can improve the law and order situation by updating the national database on unregistered population?

Bearing in mind, the primary purpose is to count the number of people in order to assess the future growth and formulate the development policies. However, if one delves deeper, the implications are more than the reported possibilities. As the political representation and resources allocations are based on the accurate statistics. This means that if the census is done in accordance with the standards, it could prove to be a source of national cohesion for the federation of Pakistan. The relation of the census with the law and order situation may not be direct, however, the absence of good socioeconomic indicators are directly responsible for not only aggravating the grievances of the people, but the unregistered population is likely to get involved in criminal activities, in addition to the resurging terrorist attacks.

The concern of national political parties is another factor which needs to be addressed by the government. For instance, the displacement of the Baloch and Pushtun population to relatively secure provinces of the Pakistan is viewed as matter reservations due to the demographic shift of the provinces. Similarly, a large segment of the population does not have the computerized national identity cards (CNIC) in Sindh and other provinces. Additionally, the impact of the census on the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award and the redistribution of the elected seats are significant issues.

Nevertheless, the challenges for the transparency and accuracy of the national census may threaten the process of accomplishing the desired goals. Hence, the weaknesses of the census and concerns of the national political parties should be taken into consideration.

The Center for Pakistan and Gulf Studies generated an online poll to assess public opinion on the impact of the recently launched operation ‘Radd-ul-Fassad’ in the wake of the new wave of terrorist attacks across Pakistan.

Critics have openly questioned the need for launching another operation, especially given the incomplete and haphazard implementation of National Action Plan. Interestingly, according to the result of the poll, a majority-72.5%-holds the view that operation Radd-ul-Fassad will prove to be effective for curtailing the new resurge in the terror attacks, while 18.2% think to the contrary. Additionally, 9.1% of the participants seem undecided. This implies that there is a need to take into confidence the undecided segments of the society in order to effectively accomplish the goals of this operation.

The main aim of launching the operation is to counter the residual and latent levels of terror threats, in addition to building on the accomplishments of the military operations launched previously. Specifically, this operation will focus on ensuring broad spectrum security in the province of Punjab, with, an emphasis on de-weaponization in the country and continuation of National Action Plan, as integral parts of the new military operation.

Broadly speaking, such operations have arguably attained some of their declared objectives; however, one limitation of such military operations is that they remain focused on achieving short-term goals rather than concentrating on eliminating the problems. Concerns must be addressed to make the operation Radd-ul-Fassad a success.

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