LAHORE - To establish the institutional mechanism to take effective measures to counter terrorism and to formulate security policy to deal with the issue, the Punjab government issued the Punjab Strategic Coordination Ordinance, 2014.

As per the ordinance, there shall be a Provincial Security Council that will approve a provincial security and counter terrorism policy, review and monitor coordination amongst security and criminal justice agencies, approve actions to be taken by security and justice sector agencies for improvement of security and law and order in the province.

The Security Council will comprise of Chief Minister as Chairman while Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Chief Secretary, Secretary Home Department, Provincial Police Officer and five others nominated by members. The Director General of the Board will be Secretary of the Council.

Under the Ordinance the govt shall, by notification, establish a Provincial Strategic Coordination Board comprising Chief Secretary as convener, Secretaries to the Home, Prosecution Departments, Provincial Police Officer, Additional Inspector General Member (Special Branch), Additional Inspector General (Counter Terrorism Department) as members. Three more persons will be nominated by the members.

The board will assist the Council in the formulation of provincial security and counter terrorism policy. It will monitor compliance with the provincial security and counter terrorism policy, improve coordination between security and criminal justice agencies, support institutional development and formulation of standard operating procedures, conduct, promote and coordinate research in relation to its mandate, support de-radicalisation through public information, support evidence led planning, maintain a database of information.

The other functions of the board include monitoring the performance of provincial security and criminal justice agencies, issue guidance notes and report and advise the Council upon matters of security and law and order. The Ordinance also empowers the strategic board with the authority to obtain information from any department or organisation as it may consider appropriate and the department or organisation shall supply such information required by the board.  The Board may appoint advisers, consultants and specialists to undertake research and analysis on security related issues. The terrorism we face is transnational and defeating it will require a foolproof policy, a senior officer of the Punjab government said. The new law would mark challenges to end war on terrorism to restore peace process, he stated.

It was need of the hour to devise a security council on the provincial level to materialise dreams of people to end restlessness in the society through disrupting terrorist networks.

“It was not clear when this government came to power back in 2013 what would be its direction to deal with the threats of terrorism. But later when it established a Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) and counter-terrorism force, issued Protection of Pakistan Ordinance, 2013, it became clear the govt’s intentions on war.”

The CCNS, the officer added, with the PM as head, was to institutionalise a consultative process between military and civilian leadership aiming to respond critical issues of security.

The other purposes of the CCNS were to monitor the functioning of different institutions on counter-terrorism front,  devise intelligence objectives and monitor their implementation, ensure coordination between  the federal and provincial governments to promote the policy, convert inputs received from intelligence into government policy and decide sensitive issues which cannot be discussed at any other forum.

Now the provinces through legislation would establish security councils to further specify the antiterrorism agenda taken by the Federal government, he stated.

To a query why the serving armed officers were not included in the council, the officer remained mum. He said that the proposed council would be highly authorised body to consult any of the institutions it prefer so.  He said when it would be adopted by the assembly such officers may be added in the Council.