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May 20, 2018

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NSC meeting: Steps to be taken to plug terror outfits’ funding

ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee (NSC) on Saturday decided to take steps for blocking the funding of terrorist outfits. The meeting also condemned the Indian aggressive posture on the Line of Control (LoC) as it continued violating the ceasefire agreement.

The NSC also gave a go-ahead signal to the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with the KP province along with huge incentives and watering down the authority of the supervisory councils in the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Kashmir. The government has expressed resolve to undertake the legislation on both these counts before the expiry of its mandate in 11 days.

The NSC held an urgent meeting on Saturday evening soon after the return of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from Turkey where he attended the emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on the Palestinian situation. Contrary to the speculations no reference came up for discussion even remotely regarding Nawaz Sharif's statement on the Mumbai attacks in the second huddle of the committee in less than a week.

The meeting continued for about four hours. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the huddle. It was 23rd meeting of the NSC held at Prime Minister’s House. The committee expressed satisfaction with the principled stand taken by Pakistan on Kashmir and Palestine issues and its articulation at the various world forums. The committee deliberated upon the question of the merger of the Fata with the KP province. The prime minister apprised the committee that his consultations on the issue with the leaders of other political parties in Parliament had reflected a broad consensus on the merger of Fata with KP.

Weighing all the pros and cons in detail, the committee endorsed that Fata would be merged with the KP along with the introduction of the administrative and judicial institutional structures and laws of the KP. The committee directed ministries concerned to work out the constitutional, legal and administrative modalities for the merger in consultation with all the parties in Parliament. The committee also endorsed the provision of additional well-monitored development funds for the Fata region during the next ten years, with the stipulation that these funds would not be re-appropriated to any other area of the KP.

Sartaj Aziz, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs & GB briefed the Committee on the Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Gilgit and Baltistan reform proposals. The NSC reviewed these proposals from the perspective of their conformity with the aspirations of the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Gilgit and Baltistan. After detailed deliberations, a consensus was reached on the devolution of greater administrative authority and financial powers to the Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan governments, retention of the Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan councils as advisory bodies; and the grant of a five-year tax holiday to Gilgit and Baltistan so as to create adequate incentives for the development of the region and to bring it at par with the other areas of the country.

Interior Secretary Arshad Mirza presented details of the measures formulated to liberalise the visa regime, in particular for tourists and business persons. Reviewing these proposals, the NSC instructed the Interior Ministry to further refine its proposals and submit them for consideration in its next meeting.

The Foreign Secretary Ms Tehmina Janjua briefed the committee on the regional and global security situation. The committee resolved that Pakistan would continue to play its role for peace and security in the region and beyond. The meeting was attended by Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Director General ISI Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar and senior civil and military officials.

The sources told The News that with the moving forward of the recommendations by a special committee under Sartaj Aziz and acceptance of the same by the NSC, the question of converting Fata into a separate province and holding a referendum in the area for determination of the will of the people has been eliminated. Interestingly the government has assured its ally JUI of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PkMAP of Mahmood Achakzaie that the status of Fata wouldn’t be altered before five years. The undertaking was given more than three years ago and the government of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is reportedly compelled now to sort out the matter immediately. The sources hinted that the requisite legislation for Fata would be undertaken in the National Assembly in the week commencing tomorrow (Monday). The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Barrister Zafarullah Khan briefed the meeting about the legal aspects of the actions proposed by the committee. The sources hinted that Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi will take Maulana Fazal and Mahmood Achakzai into confidence before tabling the Fata reforms legislation in the National Assembly about the decisions taken at the committee meeting. The Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal who couldn’t turn up for last week’s sitting of the NSC due to bullet injury in his arm and the abdomen attended the huddle with a bandage to his arm and everybody inquired after him and prayed for his recovery, safety and security.

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