Turning the National Action Plan (NAP) into something other than a glorified wish list, and resulting in a real plan and action therefrom, was always going to be a challenge. Vested interests, a powerful and devious sacerdotal cohort and political positions — vote banks — are all in play and none are playing on the side of the NAP nor are likely to in the foreseeable future. There has been criticism in every province as to the laggardly implementation of the NAP, and now the Punjab government has submitted a comprehensive report (yes, another ‘comprehensive report’) on action it has taken under the NAP to counter terrorism in the province. The report was triggered by a suo-motu case, and the government has assured the Supreme Court that a watch will be kept — a proactive watch no less — on the funding of banned groups and welfare organisations.
The report tells the bench that the Counterterrorism Department is monitoring assorted banned organisations — which they ought to be doing as a matter of course anyway and why are the banned organisations not being taken down — and particularly concentrating on their sources of funding. This would be encouraging were it not for being largely cosmetic. Almost exactly half of the seminaries in Punjab are unregistered, 6,479, and the government is proposing a formal legal framework for registration, similar to the Punjab Private Education Institutions Ordinance 1984 — which the seminaries will predictably resist with all their might.
Cases have been registered against banned organisations, but thus far there are only 28 cases actually going through the courts. There have been 148 cases registered related to the financing of terrorism. Whilst we have a degree of sympathy for overstretched and inefficient police departments having difficulty with the enormity of the task they face, more ought to have been achieved sooner. A lot sooner. This is not the policing equivalent of rocket science, and the majority of persons and organisations of interest are hiding in plain sight. A little more concerted action and a little less of the smoke-and-mirrors reporting and we will all sleep a lot easier in our beds.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2015.
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