'High-level' moot reviews crackdown on banned outfits

Consultation on NAP called off after opposition shuns meeting

Rizwan Ghilzai March 27, 2019
PM Imran Khan chairs high level meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday. PHOTO: PTI

ISLAMABAD: A high-level meeting on Wednesday discussed status of implementation on the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism and the on-going country-wide crackdown against proscribed organisations.

The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan was attended by federal ministers – Asad Umar, Shafqat Mehmood, Shehryar Afridi – army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief,  secretary foreign affairs, secretary interior, and other senior officials.

A brief statement issued after the meeting said the 'high-level' meeting discussed 'security matters'.

Official sources said the meeting discussed internal and external security situation as well as the crackdown against banned outfits as part of NAP with regard to which the Ministry of Interior also gave a presentation.

The meeting also discussed the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) recommendations to curb money laundering and terror financing and the country's efforts to meet those conditions.

The Foreign Office gave a briefing on the Afghan peace process. The meeting also discussed the Afghan reaction to the prime minister's recent statement with regard to Afghan electoral process.

Afghanistan on Tuesday recalled its ambassador from Pakistan over reported remarks by Prime Minister Imran Khan that suggested Kabul should set up an interim government.

Afghanistan had also summoned Pakistan's deputy ambassador to discuss the 'irresponsible' remarks by Khan, Afghan Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Sibghatullah Ahmadi had said in a series of tweets.

Earlier in the day, the Foreign Office clarified that the PM's comments on Afghanistan had been misinterpreted and reported out of context in the media, leading to an unwarranted reaction from various quarters

Consultation on NAP called off

A meeting of the parliamentary party leaders convened by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday (today) to discuss the speedy implementation of NAP was cancelled on Wednesday after the major opposition parties declined to attend. The government formally initiated the process of consultations on NAP implementation with opposition parties in mid-March.

Qureshi, on the directive of Prime Minister Imran Khan, had sent letters to the leaders of parliamentary parties on March 18, inviting them to a briefing on NAP at the Parliament House on March 28.

"The meeting stands cancelled after Pakistan Muslim League's [PML-Nawaz] leader Shahbaz Sharif via telephone and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam [JUI-Fazl] chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Co-Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party [PPP] Asif Ali Zardari through letters regretted to attend the meeting," said a statement by the foreign minister's office.

A spokesperson for the foreign minister said the opposition politicians had all declined to attend the meeting due to their 'political engagements'. "Under these circumstances, due to the political considerations of opposition parties, the consultation will not be held," the spokesperson said.

Qureshi sent the invitation after the government launched a countrywide crackdown against banned outfits "as part of the NAP" and took over control of particularly the charities–Jamaatud Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation–run by Hafiz Saeed and arrested several activists, including some close relatives of Maulana Masood Azhar.

In his invitation letter, Qureshi had said NAP was unanimously approved by the all political parties to root out terrorism but it also included various points related to the country's foreign policy. The plan included a national resolve not to allow the country's soil to be used against any other country.

"All political parties are invited to show their support and resolve for eradication of terrorism. The discussions will highlight our determination to implement the national strategy. Implementation of the NAP is clearly in the long-term interest of the country and the nation," the invitation said.

Last week, in a letter to the foreign minister, Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif–who is also the president of the PML-N, said any briefing on NAP should be given in the National Assembly so that the political leaders could benefit from the "collective wisdom" of the legislature.

"In place of individual decisions, the government should keep in mind the national interest and take all political leadership on board. Instead of a few parliamentary leaders, a briefing on NAP should be given to the entire house so that we can benefit from the collective wisdom and expertise of the parliament," Sharif wrote.

The JUI-F announced that it would boycott the parliamentary leaders' conference in a press conference addressed by its chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. "We will boycott the meeting called by the government to discuss progress on NAP," Fazl had told reporters. "We will not allow anyone to launch a crackdown on religiously seminaries on pretext of NAP."

The JUI-F chief had said on the one hand the government was battling against India while on the other hand it had started a crackdown on religious seminaries. "Action against seminaries are based on mere assumptions and should stop," the JUI-F chief had said.

On last Thursday, Rehman met Zardari and both the leaders expressed dissatisfaction over the government's performance. Zardari accused the government of political vendetta against the opposition, while Rehman claimed the government was not serious about the implementation of NAP.


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