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‘It’s difficult to fight terrorism without political will’

By Our Correspondent
August 28, 2021

Speakers at a moot on Friday said that the National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism had not been fully implemented due to various reasons, mainly lack of civilian ownership of the plan for its execution, confusion on the definition of terrorism, and the absence of a national narrative on terrorism.

They were speaking a ceremony organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Pakistan, a German political foundation, and Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad based think-tank, to launch two reports -- “Defining Terrorism in Pakistan” and “Assessing the National Action Plan to counter terrorism and defining terrorism in Pakistan”.

Barrister Murtaza Wahab, the Sindh chief minister’s advisor on law and Karachi administrator, said the Sindh province had passed several bills for improving policing, reforming jails and dealing with cases of synthetic drugs. “But without the support of the judiciary, it is hard to implement the bills that have been adopted to curb crimes and combat terrorism,” he said.

Senator Taj Haider, a Pakistan Peoples Party central leader, said that the terrorists do not have powers to fight with the state, but without having a political will, it is difficult to fight terrorism. “The terrorist groups mainly gain support from marginalised communities by exploiting their sufferings and problems.”

Haider said that the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) was empowered to implement the NAP and coordinate among all active law enforcement and intelligence agencies. “But unfortunately, the NACTA was crippled.”

Dr Jochen Hippler, FES Pakistan Country Director, stressed the need to have a clear definition of terrorism and to execute the NAP in letter and spirit with its ownership by the government to eliminate terrorism from Pakistan.

Mangla Sharma, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s MPA, said that Pakistan should prepare itself to confront any potential security threats after the Taliban took over Kabul. “Incidents, such as vandalising the statue of Ranjit Singh or attacks on worship places of minority faiths, show that extremist elements in Pakistan have been encouraged by Taliban’s gains in the neighbouring country.”

Karamat Ali, a member of the Sindh public safety and police complaints commission, said that the Sindh government had been showing a non-serious and lackluster approach towards making the commission an effective body for resolving the issues pertaining to police performance, citizens' complaints against the police, and other issues.

Citizens-Police Liaison Committee chief Zubair Habib, Human Rights Commisno of Pakitan’s co-chair Asad Iqbal Butt, PIPS’s Safdar Sial, and FES Program Coordinators Hamayoun Khan also spoke at the event, and said all stakeholders would have to play their role to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.