Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday, revealed snippets from the proposed national counter-terrorism and extremism policy which envisages the establishment of a joint intelligence secretariat and a counter-terrorism rapid deployment force.
Addressing a news conference at the Punjab House, Nisar said the proposed joint intelligence secretariat would be established within six months with the aim to make swift decisions on actionable intelligence. The force is proposed to have an initial strength of 500 personnel, which will be subsequently raised to 2,000.
Nisar said the secretariat would also coordinate with the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), which he alleged had been dysfunctional so far.
Similarly, the interior minister said that a new counter terrorism rapid deployment force, comprising of serving and retired military officers, would be raised to respond immediately to any act of terrorism in the country.
“If despite our pre-emptive measures an act of terrorism occurs, the rapid deployment force will be expected to act within minutes,” said Nisar, adding that local police would also be strengthened in their fight against militancy.
The revelations came as pressure piled up on the interior minister to present the final draft of the counter-terrorism policy, which was due to be presented on August 13, to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Talking about the delay in finalisation of the draft policy, Nisar lashed out at media persons, opposition leaders and retired military officers for criticizing his party, saying that it has he (Nisar) who had stressed the need for a comprehensive policy.
Quoting examples from United States, United Kingdom, Israel, India and Sri Lanka, the minister said that the procedure for making such policies was usually lengthy and required research coupled with deliberations with all security agencies.
“How can people from the preceding government talk about national security when, for the past 13 years, we couldn’t even decide if the war on terror was ours or not,” said Nisar, adding that that after 9/11, the war on terrorism was imposed on Pakistan.
However, Nisar quickly added that if someone resorts to terrorism in the streets of Pakistan and guns down its citizens, then the war is Pakistan’s war and that his government would confront such nefarious elements.
“It is a defining moment in the history of Pakistan and we want to develop national consensus on the issue of how to deal with the multifaceted wave of terrorism currently affecting all four provinces of the country,” said the minister, adding that the way forward would depend on whether the consensus prefers to use force or the way of negotiation.
He said that in case a decision is taken to use force, then we will not fight half heartedly, a full-fledged war will be launched against militants. However, if negotiation is preferred then the government will devise a clear policy on the terms and conditions for such talks.
All Parties Conference
Nisar revealed on Tuesday that the all parliamentary parties conference (APC) is likely to take place later this month. He said that the government was working on an agenda for the conference, during which the director general of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) or any other military official would brief political leaders on the challenges being faced by the country.
Replying to a question, he said the government was also considering Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s demand of a briefing from the army chief and prime minister before any conference.
Taking a hardliner stance towards India, the interior minister warned the neighboring country not to further escalate tensions along the border, reiterating that the entire nation was behind the country’s military which was well positioned to respond to any aggression.
Meanwhile, sources in the prime minister’s secretariat told The Express Tribune that the premier had not taken too well to the interior minister’s press conference, particularly his controversial statements labeling the war on terrorism as “not ours” as well as his stern warning to India over LoC violations. Sources reveal that the censure came because both statements did not accurately represent the policy of the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2013.
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