Counterterrorism strategy: Govt, military command to work out three-pronged plan

Its success depends on political will and on the sincerity of the measures


Sardar Sikander February 19, 2017
Targeted camps were located in areas opposite Mohmand and Khyber agencies. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The civilian government and the military command are scheduled to devise a three-pronged counterterrorism strategy after the latest wave of terror necessitated the need for swiftly implementing the almost stalled National Action Plan (NAP), The Express Tribune learnt on good authority on Saturday.

Following lengthy meetings, both sides have agreed to formulate a detailed strategy to prevent the situation from becoming worse.

An important meeting between top government and military officials soon is scheduled to be held soon to map out the outlines of the proposed strategy, it is learnt.

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The proposed plan envisaged internally cleansing the country of terrorism, implementing effective counterterrorism laws and diplomatic moves to sensitise the global community against linkages between terrorist outfits and hostile states.

“These measures have to go hand in hand if we want long-lasting peace in our country,” said a close aide to the prime minister on condition of anonymity.

The ongoing targeted operations across the country were part of this strategy, the source said.

“A ruthless process of internal cleaning has to be complemented by a legal cover –military courts, counterterrorism laws and all that — besides taking up the issue of cross-border terrorism with hostile countries such as Afghanistan and India — and with the rest of the world — these initiatives need to be synchronised to achieve the desired goals.”

Deliberations between the government and opposition on the draft of the 25th constitutional amendment are also under way after opposition and ruling parties reached an informal consensus on extending the term of military courts, another insider said.

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On taking up the issue of terrorism with hostile states, progress was made as Pakistan handed over a list of 76 hardcore terrorists currently hiding in Afghanistan against whom action was required. “This initiative will later be expanded for specifically taking up the issue of cross-border terrorism, involving Afghanistan and India with world powers and at international forums.”The success of the three-pronged strategy, the sources said, depended on the political will and “on the sincerity of the envisioned measures.”

After a gap of nearly three months, the federal government and the military command held a meeting on January 9 to review NAP’s progress after which an agreement emerged regarding the extension of military courts’ tenure. However, other proposed measures still await implementation. These include setting up of a central record depository for stopping the influx of terror funding to banned outfits, disrupting financial nexus between criminal networks and terrorist organisations, strengthening counterterrorism laws and related measures for curbing religious extremism.

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The PM’s Adviser Ameer Muqam said effective counterterrorism measures were part of the federal government’s policy laid down in 2014 following the launch of the Zarb-e-Azb operation and after the massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar in December in the same year. “Stakeholders maintain an active and regular contact on NAP in the counterterrorism drive.”

Asked about the three-pronged strategy being formulated in the aftermath of unabated incidents of terrorism, he said: “It’s quite natural that you settle down a bit when things get to normalcy as a result of your effective action against terrorists— and things toughen up when the situation  gets challenging—our counterterrorism measures are not something  out of the blue. As I said, we have worked hard on these measures over the years. Yes, these are the challenging times and decisions have to be made accordingly but this is not something unusual. We have faced challenging times in the past and braved the odds. Pakistan’s contribution in defeating the terrorism is matchless in the entire world.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2017.

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