Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday shared with lawmakers salient features of the National Security Policy and sought support from opposition to help the government in curbing terrorism.
“It is not an easy task. National security is a wide ranging subject but it is our firm resolve to curb extremism, because it is the matter of survival of the nation,” said Nisar while making a policy statement during the National Assembly.
Despite seeking suggestions from opposition benches, Nisar chose not to share the security policy document either with the lawmakers or with the media, claiming that the document was still not final and rather claimed that after incorporating suggestions from the opposition and treasury members, final document would be shared.
Interestingly, the document was also taken back from the cabinet members after Tuesday’s meeting despite the fact that the policy document had been passed by the cabinet members.
The minister also hinted at secrecy of the document by claiming that the policy would have three dimensions: “secret, strategic and operational”.
“The first dimension will deal with day-to-day affairs and shall be kept secret. It will be totally administrative and shall be reviewed weekly or monthly as required by the situation”.
The second dimension, he added, would be strategic elaborating how to proceed and operate when a situation arises. The third dimension would be operational explaining for appropriate actions, he added.
“The government has two options – either to continue with the status quo like past 13 years or move forward with a commitment to bring the extremism to an end. We opted for the second one and brought a policy within a record period of five months.”
Focusing on the government’s priorities to deal with extremism, the minister said that he had four options with first one to remain indifferent; secondly to hold dialogue; thirdly to go for a full-scale military operation and; lastly to carry forward dialogue and strategic action side by side.
“All of us know that we opted for dialogue. But our overture was not taken seriously by the other side,” he said and mentioned various terrorist attacks after initiation of dialogue.
“But the Bannu attack and killing of FC jawans could not be overlooked. So we decided for strategic strikes along with dialogue with those who desired dialogue because dialogue and terrorist activities could not go side by side.”
“After these terrorist activities, the prime minister had decided that enough is enough and dialogue could not further go until such activities are not halted. We reviewed our policy and precision strikes are a result of change in policy,” he explained.
“In these strikes, it was clear direction by the government to execute it in light of intelligence reports and avoid collateral damage and ensure safety of citizens.”
Nisar said the government had proceeded with a commitment and clear mind but it did not get proper response from other side.
“When some militant groups refused to hold dialogue, we focused other groups who were willing to sit with us and discuss the solution.”
He said the government has sincerely worked on the policy rising above the political affiliations.
“We desire consensus. Our opponents are unseen and scattered across the country. So, we need to construct brick by brick and media should not give undue importance to those fighting against the nation.”
He said, “At present there are 175,000 unregistered residents in Islamabad territory. We have conducted a survey and it was found that in 24 slum dwellings in capital, there are 82,000 unregistered residents while in Bari Imam and Bhara Kahu area the number is 87,000 with many among them having connections with certain organisations.”
The Interior minister said the National Counter-Terrorism Authority is being made a premier counter terrorism authority while a Joint Intelligence Directorate will be set up for effective coordination among intelligence agencies.
He also announced to raise a rapid response force to work under the police. This experience will be started from Islamabad with recruitment of 500 personnel initially and later the PM will discuss it with provinces to raise an identical force there.
He said different fields have also been identified to set up bases for helicopters to be placed on disposal of the force while an internal security division would be set up for coordination of civil armed forces.
“Our intension is clear. We have a firm resolve to root out terrorism and extremism. Let us keep politics aside and proceed with dedication and commitment,” Nisar maintained.
Separately, the National Assembly unanimously passed the bill to repeal the Federal Court Act 1937 (the Federal Court (Repeal) Bill 2013.
The bill was moved by Science and Technology Minister Zahid Hamid. Speaker Ayaz Sadiq sought the consent of the House clause by clause.
According to statement of objects and reasons, the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan considered the proposal to repeal Federal Court Act, 1937 in its meeting on June 4, 2011.
It was observed that pursuant to framing of Supreme Court Rules, 1980, the Federal Act 1937 has lost its effectiveness and has become redundant; therefore there is no need to retain the same. The commission agreed with the proposal and recommended to repeal the Federal Court Act 1937 (Act No XXV of 1937).
Meanwhile, State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali told the NA that the outstanding amount of circular debt of the independent power producers (IPPs) has surged to Rs 173 billion up to January 31.
In a written reply to the questions of legislators, he said power sector payables on January 31 were Rs 246 billion whereas its receivables from consumers were Rs 491 billion. Majority of the receivables are from private consumers Rs 326 billion, from government (federal provincial) Rs 125 billion and from KESC Rs 41 billion (without markup).
Smart metre system would be introduced for strengthening monitoring and checking over billing in power sector.
To a question, he said approximately 20 million tonnes coal would be imported per annum after commissioning of 6600mw Gadani Power Project. NEPRA was in process of working on upfront tariff of power projects at Gadani.
Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has been assigned to construct 12 small and medium dams in across the country to store 2.7 million acre feet of flood water.
In a written reply to the question of Muzammil Qureshi, he said the dams would help irrigating 0.37 million acre of new culturable command areas.
The dams, including Darawat Dam, situated in Thata/Jamshoro would irrigate 121,605 acre feet, Nai Gaj Dam, situated in Dadu would help irrigate 300,000 acre feet land, Naulong Dam, situated in Jhal Magsi would irrigate 242,452 acre feet, Winder Dam, situated in Lasbela would irrigate 36,484 acre feet land.
Hingol Dam will help irrigate 1,205,752 acre feet land, Garuk Dam situated in Kharan will irrigate 50,695 acre feet. Pelar Dam is being constructed in Awaran will irrigate 99,175 acre feet land, Tank Zam Dam, situated in Dera Ismael Khan will irrigate 345,000 acre feet land, Bara Dam, situated in Khyber Agency will irrigate 85,363 acre feet, Daraban Zam dam project, situated in DI Khan will irrigate 69,739 acre feet land, Ghabir Dam, Chakwal will irrigate 66,200 acre feet and Papin Dam situated in Rawalpindi would help irrigating 89,600 acre feet land.