Pakistan’s government believes that security and peace are essential for sustainable development in the economic, political, social and cultural spheres of the national life which entails protecting the lives and rights of the citizens, resources, territorial integrity of the country, state institutions and sovereignty of the state. The existentialist threat posed by terrorism and extremism which went unchecked for well over a decade severely hampered the successive governments’ efforts to check the menace and erase its ill-effects on the economy and other areas of national life. The scourge of terrorism has not only inflicted incalculable harm on Pakistan internally but it had also tarnished the image of the country at the global level. Terrorism is a global problem, and Pakistan as a country and as a nation in particular has been suffering from it for the past few years. No country had suffered so much from it as Pakistan. We have lost more than 60,000 innocent lives. Our country has been faced with the threat of militancy and extremism. Our forces and police and civilians have been attacked and martyred. Our bases, police stations, pipelines, railways, hotels, schools, have been targeted. Even our mosques, churches and religious shrines have not been spared. Our country’s image has been negatively projected. Our economy has had to bear extra burdens. Even the good name of our great religion -- a religion of peace and harmony and love -- has been exploited. The international war against terrorism has caused more agony, deaths and destruction to the people of Pakistan than any other country in the world.
Government therefore accorded top priority to dealing with this phenomenon. Immediately after assuming office, Prime Minister, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, called an All Party Conference to evolve a national consensus through the collective wisdom of all the major political parties and stakeholders on the strategies and policies purported to restore peace and stability in the country.
The government enunciated the country’s first ever National Internal Security Policy and in line with the strategy approved by the APC, initiated a process of dialogue with the militants with a view to finding a peaceful settlement, keeping the option of use of force open as a last resort.
Unfortunately the process of dialogue failed to achieve the desired results due to the inexplicably defiant conduct of militants who continued to attack the security and other installations of the state, forcing the government to launch operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan in June 2014 in the wake of terrorist attack on Karachi airport, with the consensus of all the political entities.
On 16th December 2014, the terrorist committed the most horrendous and detestable act of terrorism by targeting the innocent students of Army Public School, Peshawar.
The government wasted no time in mounting a decisive and comprehensive offensive against the terrorists in the form of the National Action Plan with the unruffled backing of all political parties represented in the Parliament and a valuable input and support from the military leadership.
The salient features of the Plan include:-
- Implementation of death sentence of those convicted in cases of terrorism.
- Special trial courts under the supervision of Army. The duration of these courts would be two years.
- Militant outfits and armed gangs will not be allowed to operate in the country.
- NACTA, the anti-terrorism institution will be strengthened.
- Strict action against the literature, newspapers and magazines promoting hatred, decapitation, extremism, sectarianism and intolerance.
- All funding sources of terrorists and terrorist outfits will be frozen.
- The defunct outfits will not be allowed to operate under any other name.
- Establishing and deploying a dedicated counter-terrorism force.
- End to religious extremism and protection of minorities will be ensured.
- Registration and regulation of religious seminaries.
- Ban on glorification of terrorists and terrorist organizations through print and electronic media.
- Administrative and development reforms in FATA with immediate focus on repatriation of IDPs.
- Communication network of terrorists will be dismantled completely.
- Concrete measures against promotion of terrorism through Internet and social media.
- No room will be left for the extremism in any part of the country.
- Ongoing operation in Karachi will be taken to its logical end.
- Balochistan government to be fully empowered for political reconciliation with complete ownership by all stakeholders.
- Action against elements spreading sectarianism.
- Formulation of a comprehensive policy to deal with the issue of Afghan refugees, beginning with registration of all refugees.
- Reforms in criminal courts system to strengthen the anti-terrorism institutions including provincial CIDs.
Legal and constitutional measures:
- The government also took recourse to legal and constitutional measures to supplement administrative actions in dealing with terrorism and law and order situation.
- In pursuance to implementing the National Action Plan, Twenty-first Amendment Bill amending the Article 175 and the First Schedule of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 was passed in January, 2015.
- The amendment seeks to setup speedy trial Military Courts for offences relating to terrorism, waging of war against Pakistan and prevention of acts threatening the security of Pakistan.
- The duration of these courts would be two years which ends on January 7, 2017. Similarly, it promulgated Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) to strengthen the legal and practical framework to fight terrorists and criminal elements, prowling around the country.
- The Ordinance stipulates that writ of the state will be established at all costs and the elements spreading terror and fear will be considered as enemies of the state. The new piece of law would go a long way in moving towards realization of that specific objective.
NAP brings down incidence of terrorism and heinous offences:
If we were to assess 2015, it would be fair to generalise that Pakistan, after a long spell, has overcome the worst and seems set on a trajectory that could lead to incremental progress and stability. Government is committed to wipe out terrorism in all its shades and hues and has adopted a zero tolerance policy against the terrorists. Incidents of terrorism, as hard statistics indicate, have definitely reduced, from 5,496 in 2014 to 3,625 in 2015. The New Year Sun witnessed 80% decline in terror acts and extremism by breaking network of terrorists in FATA, Karachi and Balochistan after developing much need consensus among the political parties.
All political forces clustered around National Action Plan to take it to logical conclusion. A terror-stricken Pakistan was largely out of fear in 2015, when a close coordination and cooperation between Armed Forces and civilian leadership made Zarb-e-Azb a great success, destroying footholds of the most feared terrorists entrenched in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency. It was a year of great reckoning when Pakistan was able to offer its assistance to France to counter terror threat there following the massacre in Paris.The National Action Plan (NAP) has also brought about relief to the nation as the country has witnessed overall decline in heinous offences, particularly the crime against persons, last year as compared to 2014. The statistics showed a comparison among the four provinces about the overall heinous crime and an analysis of the offences occurred in 2014 and in 2015 (after the implementation of NAP). The data showed a vivid picture in regard to crime against persons in Pakistan as the total murder incidents decreased manifold largely due to the country-wide execution of the convicts, particularly the terrorists belonging to the banned organisations. Punjab and Sindh have taken lead on two other provinces in bringing the total heinous crime down under the NAP. After the implementation of NAP, three and two per cent decline was witnessed from 2014 to 2015 in the total crime that had taken place in Sindh and Punjab, respectively. The data was obtained from the provinces to analyse the countrywide crime status one year after the implementation of NAP. Punjab’s overall crime was reported 3, 89,554 cases in 2014 which decreased to 3, 82,932 in 2015 showing a difference of 6,622. Unfortunately, two provinces – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan – witnessed 10 and 1 per cent surge in the total crime in 2015 as compared to 2014. The KP had reported a total of 1, 38,446 overall crime cases in 2014 which increased to 1, 52,433 in 2015, according to the available statistics. Punjab being the most populous province of Pakistan with approximately 56pc of the country’s total population showed an unprecedented decline in murder cases under the NAP. In 2014, as many as 6,094 persons were murdered in Punjab and this number had come down to 4,522 in 2015, according to the statistics. Sindh took a lead on other provinces in this particular category of crime (murder incidents) by reporting 42pc reduction in 2015 as compared to 2014
In dacoity and robbery incidents, again Punjab and Sindh showed visibly good performance under NAP as both had reported 33pc and 37pc decline in the former and 16pc and 25pc in the latter category of crime, respectively. The kidnap for ransom has been a very challenging task in Pakistan during the last few years as the countrywide surge in the percentage of this kind of crime had upset the rich and business class. After the implementation of NAP, all the provinces overwhelmingly responded to this category of crime by reducing it to 52pc
In respect of crime against property, the statistics showed that the KP was the only province which had reported surge while Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan brought the incidents against such offences down in 2015 under the action plan. In 2014, the data showed the KP had reported 3,702 incidents of crime against property which increased to 3,826 next year. In the Punjab, the incidents of crime against property declined from 96,062 in 2014 to 84,518 in 2015. The same is the situation in Sindh which had reported 17,975 cases in 2014 that later decreased to 13,932 next year