Censuring the government over the apparent non-implementation of the hyped National Action Plan (NAP), the apex court called it a mere ‘eyewash’, a ‘big joke’ that ‘existed only on papers’. Expressing his displeasure over the absence of even a ‘single bit of concrete action’, Justice Jawad Khawaja said it was ‘devised to deceive the masses’. In a rare rebuttal to the Supreme Court, an unnamed spokesperson of the Interior Ministry rejected the Court’s remarks.

The handout, issued by the Ministry on Saturday – a day after SC’s caustic remarks – claimed that on some issues work had been done ‘in months, which would have taken years’. It also claimed around 60,420 arrests, which were made as a result of 54,376 operations. Following updates were listed as NAP progress: total 3,019 intelligence-based operations out of which 1,388 pieces of intelligence were shared with relevant institutions; 97.9 million mobile SIMs verified using biometric technology while 5.1 million SIMs blocked; around 1,776 cases registered while 1,799 arrests made to prevent hate speech and provocative material; operation has been launched in Karachi as a result of which target killings were decreased by 44%, murders by 37%, theft by 23% and terrorism by 46%; around 55,962 criminals have been arrested out which 688 were terrorists.

Beyond the statistics released by the Interior Ministry as described above, some organ of the state needs to compile a comprehensive report about the results achieved by all aspects of NAP implementation. The Interior Ministry vows to produce that report for the SC, but at the same time claims that it is not the only ministry responsible for implementing NAP. If that is so, this Ministry is not the only one to report about NAP implementation, either. It is the responsibility of the entire cabinet and all provincial authorities as well as the military to implement different aspects of NAP.

What the SC – if not the parliament – needs to ask the government is, what central ministry has been made the focal point to coordinate the NAP progress? It cannot be Interior Ministry nor it can be NACTA for more 40% of NAP would be outside their ambit. For the federal cabinet it can be Cabinet Secretariat and for compiling the provincial components, it can be Inter-Provincial Coordination Ministry, which would be able to invoke Council of Common Interests whenever necessary, on the issues where all provincial governments are needed to be taken in confidence.

The Interior Ministry handout misses the update on the implementation progress of some very important aspects of NAP i.e., action on seminaries having links with terror outfits, hate speech by the clerics of madrassas and the Imams of the mosques, action on proscribed organisations, crack down on sectarian terrorist organisations, FATA reforms, Balochistan reconciliation process, status of national policy on Afghan refugees, reforms in criminal justice system, etc.

On all these NAP points, there have been contradicting media reports quoting Interior Ministry sources. Despite the recent handout by the Ministry claiming success, the Interior Secretary had admitted in June that the ‘crackdown on jihadi outfits was not being executed at the required pace’ and ‘progress in particular areas outlined in the NAP had been dismal’. While briefing a parliamentary panel on NAP, the NACTA chief had said in June that more needed to be done to clamp down on financers of sectarian and terrorist networks. But in the same month, Director General ISPR made a statement that NAP had ‘effectively plugged the funding of terrorist groups operating in the Pakistan’. He also claimed that the Intelligence-based operation, physical operation in FATA and squeezing the funding of terrorist group were ‘the fine achievements of NAP’.

Let alone working together and coordinating the implementation of NAP, the Interior Ministry, NACTA and ISPR cannot even exchange notes on the ‘fine achievements of NAP’ before going public and reporting to the Parliament. Just like NACTA chief and Secretary Interior were not checking with their competent authority before issuing such statements, ISPR also appears to be exempt from taking the view of its supervising Ministry. One common thread that runs through all these institutions (despite their claims of being disciplined and professional) happens to be being independent of any discipline that the chain-of-command imposes. What a pile of confusion NAP is and what a big mess all these institutions are!

Another important point that the DG ISPR brought in his media briefing back in June was about ‘some of the points of NAP’ that he said had been ‘initiated but the remaining are delaying due to some political issues’. Unfortunately, no one from the ‘free media’ asked during the briefing as to what those political issues were that hindered NAP implementation. But a month later, an Interior Ministry handout (issued last Saturday) voiced similar concern when it admitted that there were ‘some internal and external restrictions to implement these points of NAP’.

Parliamentary Committees on Interior or the Cabinet Division, or the Leaders of Opposition in both Houses or at least the vocal parliamentarians from all opposition parties might like to ask the government to not only furnish a periodic progress report on NAP implementation, but also explain the ‘political challenges and pressures’ that the Interior Ministry’s handout and earlier the DG of ISPR were talking about.

The civil society must make a demand from the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairman of the Senate to either constitute a special committee in their respective House or a joint Parliamentary Committee for the oversight of NAP. If that is difficult for whatever reasons, the existing Standing Committees on Interior, Inter-Provincial Coordination, Cabinet Division, Finance, IT, SAFRON, and other relevant ones, should be entrusted with the task to solicit NAP progress reports periodically (preferably every quarter) from their respective ministries / divisions and present them to the House.

Some of the questions that the parliament may ask from the government are: What is the focal machinery to coordinate NAP implementation? What progress has been made beyond numbers, in terms of results under every NAP point? What are the external and internal challenges hindering NAP progress? How much funds have been allocated for the implementation under each NAP point? Have the three important points of NAP (i.e., Madrassa regulation, policy on Afghan refugees and clamping down of proscribed organisations) been clamped down? If yes, who approved this deletion? Were the political parties taken in confidence? How many meetings of the 16 NAP committees (constituted by the PM on Dec 24, 2014) have been held so far? How are the decisions of these committees being implemented and by whom?

These are but the most basic questions. Once the parliament does this, the NAP Watch Group – a citizens’ alliance to watch the NAP progress – would be able to assist the parliament and the government to continuously oversee the results and come up with efficient solutions.

All said, one thing that all of us – all pillars of the state and the citizens – need to always keep in mind is, NAP is not a joke. It is a matter of our survival. We better start taking our survival seriously, after 68 years of our birth.