Observers say govt has failed to bring in institutional reforms.
ISLAMABAD: Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have interrogated over a million people under the new anti-terror strategy devised in December last year following the Peshawar school tragedy.
While the ‘swift crackdown’ against militants continues, experts believe this ‘stop and frisk’ exercise under the National Action Plan (NAP) has proved futile in the absence of any institutional reforms, as questioning or arresting people is not the solution.
Since intelligence-based raids began on December 28, 2014, law enforcement agencies have questioned 1,073,699 people during 73,058 operations across the country.
According to the provincial home departments’ figures, agencies questioned 939,229 suspects in 32,106 raids in Punjab; 116,600 suspects in 22,854 operations in Sindh; 5,477 people in 406 operations in Islamabad; 4,116 people in 1,904 raids in Balochistan; 2,887 suspects in 12,773 operations in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P); 2,992 people in 2,570 raids in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK); 2,004 suspects in 208 operations in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B); and 394 people in 234 operations in the tribal areas.
The agencies arrested 85,213 suspects during this period with the highest (40,477) arrested in K-P. Around 25,215 people were arrested in Sindh; 8,639 in Balochistan; 5,371 in Punjab; 2,329 in Islamabad; 1,810 in G-B; 649 in AJK; while 755 suspects were arrested in tribal areas.
Among those arrested were 1,652 terrorists and 740 hardcore activists. Around 1,976 suspected militants were killed during these operations. Over 9,400 firebrand speakers and clerics have also been arrested on charges of fanning sectarian hatred.
But Rustam Shah Mohmand, who was also a member of the experts’ committee that prepared the 20-points for NAP, believes there has been no headway. “Was there any need to question a million people? Where are the necessary institutional reforms under the NAP?” he asks.
“There has been no progress on most of the key points of NAP,” he said. “No progress on seminary reforms, on legislation on sectarian violence, restoration of an effective district magistrate system and the list goes on.” Rustam claims the achievements have come through the already launched military operations in Karachi, Fata, Balochistan and southern Punjab.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s Prof Ibrahim Khan also seconded his views. “Action under NAP against militants has been one-sided,” he said. “How was it determined by the forces that all arrested or killed suspects were terrorists?”
Government officials, however, believe the country has witnessed a significant drop in terrorism incidents as a result of actions taken under the NAP. Despite limited resources, they said, the government has been immensely successful in maintaining peace in Karachi, Balochistan and tribal areas even when the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) is yet to start functioning or to receive its promised Rs1.8 billion funds.
Ihsan Ghani, the Nacta national coordinator, claimed the interior minister was extremely serious about executing the revised anti-terror policies. “It [NAP] remains the government’s prime focus than other plans of action. Action plan will go on until we eliminate all those elements who challenge the writ of the state,” he told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2015.