ISLAMABAD  -   The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has got a major increase in the annual budget 2019-20 as the federal government has earmarked Rs276 million for the Authority which is 62 per cent higher than the previous allocation.

NACTA, the country’s only counter terrorism authority at the federal level, had been allocated Rs170 million for the outgoing fiscal year 2018-19. However, the authority exceeded from its allocated amount and its expenditures rose up to Rs294 million during a year. The extra-expenditures would be placed before the National Assembly during the ongoing budget session to get its approval.

The allocation of Rs276 million is out of the total allocation of Rs140 billion earmarked for the internal security and law and order under the head of Ministry of Interior in the Finance Bill 2019-20.

In the finance year 2017-18, then government had allocated Rs140 million for NACTA. However, the body during that fiscal year made no extra expenditures.

The government had allocated Rs109 million for NACTA for the fiscal year 2016-17 but finance ministry later agreed to release additional amount to it to the tune of Rs1.56 billion as revised allocation. The revised budget of Rs1.56 billion had been allocated against the actual demand of Rs2 billion by then NACTA chief to restructure and strengthen the authority.

The role of the country’s premier counter terrorism body in elimination of terrorism and making comprehensive polices in this regard had remained under question since its inception. Many security analysts believe that NACTA had so far failed to play the role that had envisaged by its founders and it is only doing the task of a post office and coordinator among the provinces and other federating units including Gilgit-Baltistant and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK). In September 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan soon after coming into power had decided to review the role and functions of the authority after its own chief Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak himself described its dismal performance since its inception. The prime minister had made the decision while chairing the first-ever meeting of the Board of Governors of NACTA at its office.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office after the meeting at that time said that PM Imran Khan remarked that the new ground realities called for revisiting the role of the organisation in order to make this body truly a proactive and sophisticated organisation with a well-defined mandate. “It was, therefore, decided during the meeting to constitute a committee for reviewing the role and functioning of the organisation,” the statement said.

NACTA chief in his briefing to that meeting had said that performance of all former chiefs of the authority remained miserable and they had done nothing during their tenures.  PM had deplored that not even a single meeting of the Board of Governors of the premier body could be convened since its inception. The NACTA was primarily established as a think-tank in 2008 to do research and formulate policies on counter-terrorism as well as counter-extremism and to play the role of a coordinator of intelligence information. In March 2013, the parliament gave legal cover to the Authority under NACTA Act, 2013.  According to NACTA’s official website, the authority derives its mandate from Article 4 of NACTA Act which in includes to “coordinate and prepare comprehensive national counter terrorism and counter extremism strategies and review them on periodical basis; and to develop action plans against terrorism and extremism and report the federal Government about implementation of these plans on periodical basis etc.”