ISLAMABAD - IMRAN MUKHTAR AND NOKHAIZ SAHI - The National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta) is likely to lose its head at a time when the government has decided to re-organise the country’s key counter-terrorism body, The Nation learnt reliably yesterday.

The reorganisation and reactivation of Nacta was one of the 20 points of the National Action Plan (NAP) on Counter-Terrorism that was announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in December last year after the deadly terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar. However, the authority still remains dormant for lack of funding.

The official sources claimed the government had decided to release around Rs 2 billion to make Nacta a powerful body after the delay of eight months.

At the same time, Nacta National Coordinator Hamid Ali Khan tendered his resignation twice within three months over bad health conditions. An officer of the Establishment Division told The Nation that Nacta head Hamid Ali Khan had tendered his resignation on the evening of August 10, 2015, due to his poor health. “The Interior Ministry moved the summary of the Nacta chief’s resignation to the Establishment Division for further action,” the officer said, adding Establishment Secretary Nadeem Hassan Asif on Tuesday sent the summary to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for final decision.

A few days back, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told media persons that the Nacta chief had resigned some three months ago for health reasons, but he had been asked to continue with his job. The PML-N government, after coming to power in 2013, took many months to find a permanent head of the counter-terrorism authority and Nacta remained without a head during the period. It looks the government would again take some time to appoint a next Nacta head.

However, after continuous efforts of Chaudhry Nisar, the federal government has now approved a summary of around Rs 2 billion funds for the reorganisation of the authority, the official sources revealed. A senior officer said the government would release the funds in phases for Nacta and a plan had been devised to establish a joint intelligence directorate (JIT) wherein all the intelligence agencies of the country would sit together to coordinate efforts in counter-terrorism. Similarly, it is likely that the government would start recruitment process in the authority in the first phase in addition to the construction of a permanent building for it.

The interior minister, soon after holding charge of his office in 2013, had announced that a joint intelligence directorate (JIT) would be established under the umbrella of Nacta to coordinate work of all intelligence agencies of the country. But the announcement could never be materialised as the Finance Division had refused to release funding for it. Similarly, some intelligence agencies were reluctant to sit together for fear of leakage of their ‘high sensitive reports’.

Nacta NC Hamid Ali Khan, talking to The Nation, confirmed that he had resigned over his deteriorating health. “The high-ups of the ministry have asked me to continue till the government finds out my replacement,” he said, adding he was facing serious backbone problems and the doctors had advised him an operation. “I have to visit hospital daily for treatment and have been advised not to sit on the chair for a long time,” he added.

The Nacta NC informed The Nation that the government had approved the summary of around Rs 2 billion to reactivate the authority and the Finance Division would release funds in phases. “A committee, comprising representatives of Nacta, finance and establishment divisions besides others, had been formed that will frame the rules of business for the reorganisation of the authority,” he said.

He pointed out that new recruitments would soon be started in the authority while the work for the establishment of joint intelligence directorate (JIT) had been started where all the intelligence agencies sit together. Nacta was established under an executive order in 2009 by the then PPP-led government with the mandate to work as a coordinating body to unify counter-terrorism efforts of various civil and military intelligence agencies. But it remained a dormant body for lack of funding and the least interest of the consecutive governments of PPP and PML-N. The idea of establishment of Nacta was that it would work as a think tank to conduct research and propose measures to deal with radicalisation and develop a comprehensive national counter-terrorism action plan. But it could never do so and presently it is working in some rooms of the Ministry of Interior with around 50 staff members.

Nacta’s first and founding head, Tariq Pervez, a senior police officer, had resigned over differences with then Interior Minister Rehman Malik on the operational modus operandi of the authority. The then interior minister wanted that Nacta should work under the Ministry of Interior, but some other high-ups of that government wanted the authority to be under the administrative control of Prime Minister’s Office. However, the present PML-N government, after coming to power, issued a notification saying operations of Nacta would remain under the PM’s Office, but it would work under the Interior Ministry, administratively.