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NAP implementation needs to be fast-tracked, says Sharif

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif defended on Wednesday the progress being made in implementing the National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism, saying it was satisfactory, although he admitted that it needed to be fast-tracked.

“The prime minister expressed his satisfaction on the progress made by various provincial and federal agencies so far and directed that the pace of implementation should be further expedited,” the Prime Minister Office said in a statement issued after a meeting was held to review the progress of NAP implementation.

The meeting, chaired by the prime minister, underscored that fighting terrorism was imperative for the country’s survival and existence. “Eradication of the menace of terrorism was neither a choice nor an option,” the participants affirmed.

Mr Sharif’s remarks about his satisfaction with NAP implementation come after months of public criticism of civilian agencies’ performance for achieving the goals set under the 20-point strategy for fighting terrorism, which was formulated and adopted through a political consensus in December 2014 after the terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif has over the past nine months twice publicly criticised the government’s poor progress on NAP. Earlier this month, he said: “The National Action Plan is central to achievement of our objectives and its lack of progress is affecting the consolidation phase of Operation Zarb-i-Azb.”

Concerns over NAP’s implementation pertained to poor progress towards madressah reforms, squelching terrorism financing, reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, increasing the capacity of the civilian law enforcement agencies and antiterrorism laws.

The government lately moved to address the concerns and this month formed the NAP Imple­mentation and Review Committee headed by National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua. It also approved raising of 29 new wings of the Frontier Corps for border management.

The prime minister’s positive assessment of progress on NAP coincided with the finalisation of the recommendations by the Fata Reforms Committee for mainstreaming the tribal areas.

The NAP review meeting decided to make the recommendations public for a national debate and developing a consensus.

Besides reviewing the recommendations of the Fata Reforms Committee, the meeting deliberated on anti-terrorism laws.

“Various laws governing the antiterrorism efforts were also reviewed and ways and means to make these laws more effective were discussed,” the PM Office said.

The discussions, according to a source, were about the future of The Protection of Pakistan Act, a key antiterrorism law, and Section 11-EEEE of the Anti-Terrorism Act relating to preventive detention for inquiry.

Both the laws expired in July and the government has appeared undecided about reviving them or doing fresh legislation.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Gen Sharif, Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz, retired Lt Gen Janjua, Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar and other senior officials.