The National Security Committee (NSC) after a detailed meeting spread over days has come up with some decisions regarding the security and economy of the country: one that peace is non-negotiable and the state of Pakistan will adopt a zero tolerance policy for terrorists challenging its writ. And, two, an economic roadmap will revive the economy and provide relief to the people. For the first challenge – rising terrorism – it has been decided that the war against terror will be led by the federal and provincial governments as per the National Action Plan (NAP) in accordance with the National Internal Security Policy (NISP). People-centric socio-economic development will be a priority while the armed forces will provide deterrence and a secure and enabling environment. Provincial apex committees are also being revived and the law enforcement agencies, especially Counter-Terrorism Departments (CTDs,) will be brought up to the required fighting standards with requisite capabilities.
The NSC meeting has taken place amidst fears that terrorism has made a comeback in the country – and that too with astonishing speed. It was thus of some relief when reports came in of the NSC meet and the consequent statement regarding ‘zero tolerance’ for terror. From Balochistan to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Islamabad, terrorist incidents have taken place one after another across the country. Many cities in the country are on red alert. Nothing but zero tolerance is needed for anyone that threatens the lives of the people of the country. The NSC statement is important in that it sends a stern message to local terrorist networks, particularly the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), while also sending out a message to the Taliban government in Kabul. Till now, the Afghan Taliban have denied providing safe havens to the TTP in Afghanistan but strategic observers have pointed to ties between the two groups and have also claimed that the Afghan Taliban played an instrumental role in Pakistan agreeing to negotiations with the TTP right after the fall of Kabul. However, the constant violations of ceasefire by TTP and the continuous attacks on our security forces made it quite clear that the decision to negotiate with the TTP was not well-thought out. This is why NAP – with all its paraphernalia – must finally be implemented in letter and spirit without any ifs or buts.
On the economic front, the crisis that is staring us in the face is an issue that is also linked to the country’s national security. Those who think that governance issues such as the economy are not related to the NSC are misguided. If the economic crisis is not averted, it will lead to a national emergency. In order to strengthen the economy, the NSC has agreed on undertaking concrete steps, “including import rationalisation as well as preventing illegal currency outflows and hawala business”. That illegal currency outflows are taking place after Pakistan made a concerted effort over the years to finally rid itself of this practice is a worrying trend. Such illegal actions are a huge threat to our national security given our fight against money-laundering. Since the NSC has all key stakeholders present there and open/frank discussions on sensitive topics, we hope that Pakistan will now take proper action when it comes to terrorism and our struggling economy. A strong economy and empowered people are after all the best security a country can hope for and Pakistan desperately needs such a turnaround in its current state of affairs made worse by years of misrule and infighting between institutions and political parties. The proof of the pudding, though, is in the eating – and we hope that this time around NAP and NISP are followed in the spirit they were made.