Tuesday November 30, 2021

Two reports launched: Call made for restructuring anti-terrorism regime

September 13, 2021

PESHAWAR: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Pakistan and Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies on Sunday launched two reports about defining terrorism and containing violent extremism which made a number of recommendations to address the issue. The report “Strengthening Governance in Pakistan: Assessing the National Action Plan to counter Terrorism and Extremism” forwarded recommendations for restructuring the anti-terrorism regime with emphasis to civilianize the counter-terrorism regime and put refocus on counter-extremism efforts.

It suggested devising plans with monitoring and evaluation systems to evaluate the implementation of National Action Plan to ensure that counter-terrorism and counter-violent extremism efforts are executed in light of the NAP framework. The report stressed the need for a National Counter Terrorism Authority independent of the ministry of interior.

It said bringing NACTA under the Prime Minister’s Office and budgetary allocation made to NACTA compatible with its wide-ranging mandate. The document said activation of the Inter-Provincial Coordination Ministry would strengthen NACTA. The report called for reforming the Criminal Justice System and recommended reviewing and refining the key definitions in the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 in consultation with stakeholders.

It suggested training and sensitization to the ATC judges in handling terrorism cases and mechanism for protection of prosecutors, witnesses and the judges.

The report recommended increased oversight of the criminal justice system by the parliament and provincial assemblies and equipping the police force with new technologies and resources to enhance their efficiency.

It suggested a de-radicalization and reintegration programme led by civilians for helping individuals abandon extremist views and shun violence. Extensive engagement of the civil society would help make the reintegration process smoother. The proposed building and promoting counter-narrative on terrorism and sectarianism for overcoming the growth of violent ideologies.

It said the government must also prioritize the healing and rehabilitation of the people of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

On the national identity and education aspect, the report recommended purging of inaccurate and biased presentation of our political history. The textbooks should help create a culture of respect for the rule of law. It also recommended teaching terrorism as a subject in the universities.

The recommendations also included improving relations with neighbours to enable the government to invest in basic social services.

It suggested to the government to initiate a process of reconciliation with the Baloch to address the issue peacefully. It said that true democracy can enable leadership to eliminate extremism from society.

The second report, “Defining Terrorism in Pakistan: The Supreme Court’s Judgment- A way forward for Parliament” suggested that “the parliament should review the policies that produced terrorism and, if required, acknowledge the wrong committed through any misguided policies.”

The document said “the parliament has to develop a clear definition of terrorism, which fulfils not only the domestic legal and political requirements but also is compatible with the minimum universal standards mentioned in the United Nations resolutions and conventions.”

The report suggested that a holistic and comprehensive approach by the parliament can be evolving a convention on terrorism, providing guidelines for the policymakers, political parties, media and civil society to deal with terrorism-related policies, narratives, and propaganda.