Finally, the country has a much-needed body for effective intelligence coordination between several civil and military security agencies operating in Pakistan. National Intelligence Coordination Committee (NICC), the liaison body for the country’s spy agencies, has become functional with the DG ISI as its convener and a senior official of IB as its secretary. Officers from ISI are expected to initially provide the secretarial support for the new body. However a separate secretariat is expected to be in place soon.
Setting up the NICC is a timely decision.
Till recently only Balochistan and KP’s tribal districts had been under constant attack by terrorist networks. What is more, there was a gradual increase in these attacks. The terrorist incidents in Janikhel too had underlined the need for an intelligence body capable of collating reports from various security agencies to help the government take timely action against the terrorists. The Wednesday attack in Lahore is an indication of the terrorists having once again developed the capacity to launch attacks deep inside Punjab. In February, a UN report noted 100 cross-border attacks in Pakistan within three months of the last year. This underlined the seriousness of the threat. Any increased instability in Afghanistan is bound to produce highly dangerous spillover effects including a heightened risk of cross-border terrorism masterminded by TTP, IS and several other networks that act on Indian Intelligence agencies’ behest. A Taliban takeover in Afghanistan would galvanize the already resurgent Pakistani Taliban.
One expects the government to provide the NICC the required funds so that it can set up an independent secretariat and recruit the necessary staff. A section under the NICC needs to work round the clock to collect thousands of excerpts gathered by several intelligence agencies daily and correlate and translate all the information into actionable intelligence. Only if it develops an ethos of its own will departmental infighting be avoided.
The performance of the NICC will be judged not from claims of nipping the conspiracies in the bud. It is not enough to provide collated intelligence input to the prime minister. What people expect from the NICC is the fulfillment of the tasks determined in the National Action Plan, reining in the extremist networks that provide recruits to terrorist organizations, a visible decline in terrorist attacks, and bringing the terrorist leadership to justice.