ISLAMABAD - The top boss of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) yesterday indicated that the reorganization and reactivation of the authority had become a far cry due to the low salary packages and incentives being given to its officers.

Senior police officer and National Coordinator (NC) NACTA Ihsan Ghani told the Senate Standing Committee on Interior panel that police officers were reluctant to join the authority because of inadequate monetary packages and incentives. While the government has yet to provide permanent office to the authority, he added.

The re-organization and reactivation of NACTA was part of the 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) on Counter Terrorism announced in December 2014 after the Army Public School terrorist attack in Peshawar.

However, NC NACTA informed the committee that Rs 1.06 billion budget had been allocated for NACTA for current fiscal year against the total demand of Rs 2.1 billion. Following the criticism of an opposition lawmaker on the government for low budget allocation, he said that budget was sufficient of the authority’s needs.

Chairman committee Rehman Malik remarked that following the approval of NAP; no significant progress had been made regarding the activation of NACTA.

“The office of NACTA has been temporarily set up at National Police Bureau (NBP) and the premises is insufficient to house even the existing employees which is badly affecting routine work of the authority,” National Coordinator (NC) NACTA told the Senate committee presided over by Senator Rehman Malik.

Ghani said that due lack of accommodation for outstation officers, officers were not ready to join the country’s first counter terrorism body. “I have nothing-incentive package, accommodation and even proper office to attract officials of DIG rank where as they are enjoining heavy perks and privileges in field postings,” he said.

The establishment division, federal and provincial government have yet to spare requisitioned officers for it, he added

Giving details to the committee, Ghani said the total approved strength of the authority was 831 and out of the total employees, 413 will be appointed in the proposed Joint Intelligence Directorate (JID), 398 in NACTA and 30 at department cell. Recruitment against 155 posts has so far been made while 686 vacancies in the authority are yet to be filed, he said.

He said that risk allowance equal to 100 percent of the running basic salary (RBS) was allowed by the Prime Minister for NACTA but was later reduced by the finance division to 55 percent.

He also said that the research and development fund as required under NACTA Act could not be established. The main objective of the fund was to carry out research on topics relevant to terrorism and extremism and appoint committee of expert from government and non-government organization for deliberations in areas related to the mandate and function of the authority, he said. He said that the authority is also responsible to prepare comprehensive national counter terrorism and extremism strategies and review them on periodical basis, he said.

Ghani said that the additional responsibilities of NACTA was to oversee security of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)-, implementation of NAP, establishing toll free help line for countering terrorism CT 1717, to oversee foreigners security and repatriation of foreign nationals.

Secretary Ministry of Finance Dr Waqar Masood told the committee that the allocation of Rs 1.06 billion for NACTA has been made with the consultation of secretary Ministry of Interior.

NC NACTA further said that work on the establishment of JID started and made significant progress regarding seminaries reforms. National narratives for countering terrorism and extremism has been drafted and would soon be finalized, he said.

He said that effective steps have been taken against proscribed organizations and schedule IV list has also revisited. The authority has also taken steps for Countering Terrorism Financing (CTF) including establishment of Joint Task Force and set up Countering Terrorism Financing Units (CTFUs) at provincial level, he said.

He said that the authority would organize National Internal Security (NIS) conference in the near future to assess NAP progress.

Malik directed NC NACTA chief to inform the committee during the next meeting as to how offices of banned outfit Jaish-e-Mohamamd were operating in the country and who was responsible for this.

Senator Shahi Syed broke into tears when Commandant Frontier Constabulary (FC) Liaqat Ali Khan told the committee about meagre salaries, inadequate equipment, and improper uniform of the force while screening a video that showed its pathetic conditions.

The Commandant FC further told the committee that FC was the most neglected force of the country despite playing active role in the fight against terrorism.