Saturday December 02, 2023

National Action Plan 26 months on: Over 7,400 suspected terrorists arrested

February 20, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Security forces have claimed to arrested over 7,400 suspected terrorists in over 32,000 IBOs (intelligence-based operations) in an effort to swiftly execute the National Action Plan (NAP) in the last 26 months (Dec 16, 2014 to Feb 16, 2017).

But dismally low rate of conviction remains the most worrying sign for the authorities engaged in closely monitoring the progress of the NAP across Pakistan. Only 190 of total 7,401 cases of suspected terrorists were sent to the special courts by the provincial authorities since the NAP-led operations started, according to the latest progress reports prepared by multiple authorities – National Counter-Terrorism Authority, provincial counter-terrorism departments and home departments, Sindh Rangers and provincial police – exclusively obtained by Geo News/The News.

Poor prosecution apparently played havoc with the country’s judicial system as only 280 (less than 4 per cent) terrorists were convicted in the courts (either by anti-terrorism courts or by the military courts).

The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), FC and police arrested more than 4,404 suspected terrorists in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and in Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata) where over 1,030 were later declared 'jet black terrorists’. Cases of all these jet black terrorists were recommended by the home department for the military courts – which were closed on Jan 7, 2017.

Sindh Rangers arrested over 1,506 terrorists and sent their cases to provincial police for the prosecution during this period, official documents reveal. All these suspected militants were arrested in various combing operations conducted by Sindh Rangers in Karachi since the operation started. The police under NAP-led operations also arrested 324 terrorists in other parts of Sindh as well.

Similarly, law enforcement agencies arrested over 1,123 suspected militants in thousands of operations in Punjab where 769 terrorists were declared jet black terrorists. Security forces – Levies, FC and police – arrested 368 terrorists in various IBOs conducted under NAP across Balochistan.

The home departments of provinces have also sealed 2,327 madrasas accused of fuelling extremism and terrorism and some of them have had links with terrorist organisations. As many as 311 madrasas were closed in Sindh, 13 in KP, two in Punjab and one in Balochistan.

The process of mapping of madrasas on agreed parameters has also been completed in Punjab, Islamabad Capital Territory and Sindh. Meanwhile, Balochistan (60 per cent completed) and KP (80 per cent) are in process of executing this exercise.

Security forces arrested more than 19,123 clerics and activists of proscribed organisations who are allegedly involved in fuelling extremism and terrorism through hate speech and spreading hate materials across the country.

Some 17, 776 cases were registered against these individuals under the new laws but the conviction ratio remained less than 16 per cent.

The relevant institutions – FIA, State Bank of Pakistan, Financial Monitoring Unit of Ministry of Finance – chocked around Rs886 million under anti-money laundering and ‘hawala hundi’ laws in an effort to stop terror financing.

Around 931 cases were filed against the individuals but only 32 accused are said to be convicted under the new laws. The government filed 283 cases against 414 accused persons under the anti-money laundering laws.

As many as 98.3 million cellular phones' SIMs were blocked in an effort to dismantling communication networks of terrorists. The government has also blocked 937 URLs and 10 websites under a new drive to curb internet terrorism.

The law enforcement agencies also killed more than 2, 200 terrorists in various encounters. The Sindh Rangers claimed that it had killed 1,009 jet black terrorists in the port city only.

The government has also frozen accounts of around 5,405 suspected extremists whose names were listed to 4th Schedule under the country’s anti-terrorism laws. The NACTA through provincial home departments also got listed 8,309 individuals in an effort to stop re-emergence of activists of proscribed organisations.

The top terror body has also restricted movement of around 2,023 individuals whose names were listed under A Category of 4th Schedule of ATA 1997, who were believed to be a security risk for the state.

Under the NAP, the ministry of interior has also banned five new organisations – including Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al Almi – which claimed responsibility of various terrorism attacks occurred in the country. The number of proscribed organisations has now reached to 65.

 The government put entire top leadership of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Jaish-e-Muhammad under house arrest by freezing their bank accounts. The government also executed 414 convicted terrorists and criminals since moratorium was lifted (Dec 16, 2016). Some 274 cases were sent to 11 military courts under NAP.

Commenting on these progress reports, a retired IGP Afzal Shigri says the poor conviction ratio in terrorism cases is a major stumbling block in way of executing this plan quickly. According to him, it is a failure of civilian government which could not revamp the criminal justice system despite passage of two years. “We even did not see any headway in madrasas reforms –the danger zone of NAP,” he said, adding that many other key points were also ignored by the government.

It is also pertinent to mention here that Pakistan seemed far behind in term of yielding better conviction ratio in criminal and terrorism cases. Conviction ratio remains less than 11 per cent while India witnessed this ratio up to 45% in such cases in the last 15 years.