Govt unveils National Internal Security Policy 2018-23

ISLAMABAD – The government on Thursday, the last day of its tenure, unveiled the National Internal Security Policy 2018-2023 loaded with a 6-R strategy and having a focus on three main domains, including administrative and socio-economic.

Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal was supposed to unveil the features of the policy in a press conference but he could not manage time and later the ministry released the policy synopsis. The National Internal Security Policy (NISP) 2018-2023 is a comprehensive framework of security that has been created with an unprecedented degree of consensus by all the organs of state. The policy formulation process was created under a “Whole of the Nation” approach, according to the officials. 

The 2014 NISP had been formulated with a four-year horizon, and the NISP 2018-2023 takes forward the previous policy by incorporating both the lessons learnt over the past few years and the updated security profile of Pakistan which has seen new dangers such as Daesh as older ones have been successfully controlled. The NISP 2018 focuses on three main domains: Administrative (strengthening the ability of the state to respond to security issues), Ideational (challenging the ideological underpinnings of extremist narratives) and Socio-Economic (addressing the deprivations that create a breeding ground for security challenges to emerge). The NISP 2018 sees security as a product of achieving both peace and the development of the country.

Under the policy, four broad objectives; creating structures for the enforcement of the rule of law, bringing the country together through a shared vision that gives space to many identities of the people of Pakistan, developing political stability from a shared vision and creating the conditions for economic and societal preconditions to achieve social justice has been set.

To achieve the objectives and vision of NISP 2018-2023, the policy has a 6R strategy; re-imagine, reconcile, redistribute, recognise, regional approach and reorient facets of the state and how it interfaces with its citizens. The Policy provides 120 measures, however, key priority areas as well as those required in the short, medium or long term have been identified to help efficient resource allocation. An elaborate implementation plan has been developed that includes for the first time in any government policy, the indicators to measure progress.

Under the six policy prongs, reorient stresses that the state security apparatus must modernise not only its infrastructure and capacity but also by redefining its raison d’etre. To do this, the state must continue to improve strategic cooperation and coordination, an interprovincial Coordination Committee on Internal Security headed by Minister of Interior will be established at the levels of chief ministers and home ministers. The NACTA will continue to take the lead on coordination among various state institutions. The NACTA will develop stronger analytical capability at its Joint Intelligence Directorate (JID) to analyse the intelligence reports and ensure that critical information is shared with relevant stakeholders in a timely fashion. To this end, the NACTA will provide a threat assessment in light of intelligence received from multiple agencies/sources. A comprehensive National Terrorism Database synchronised with the police departments of the country, NADRA, FIA and State Bank of Pakistan and other relevant departments and agencies will be established at the NACTA. The legal system will also be reformed such as simplifying the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898, and Amendments in Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 will be made to prevent its abuse. Furthermore, all laws and clauses that conflict with one another will be amended to make the legal framework of Pakistan more coherent. Evidence law (qanoon-e-shahadat) will be amended/expanded to allow for recording of evidence through video link, Skype, video conferencing, use of screens or curtains to hide the identity of the witness as provided in Anti-Terrorism Act, the police states. Collection of forensic evidence in all cases will be made mandatory by amending the Police rules.

Criminal record database will be unified at national level with the access available to all the law enforcement agencies. Prison security will be enhanced and only high security prisons will be used to house hardened terrorists. Terrorism convicts will be kept in isolation from other inmates to prevent potential radicalization within jails. Family quarters will be established for conjugal rights. Under trial prisoners, who are expected to stay longer than six months in the prisons will be involved in skills development courses. Prisoners under imprisonment extending up to 14 years will be provided an opportunity to improve their educational qualification.

The police further said a combined civil-military cyber command force shall be established to ensure intra and inter agency coordination. Efforts will be made to enforce an arms embargo, impose travel restrictions, freeze movable and immovable property and curtail the fund-raising ability of the proscribed organisations. Construction of required forts, fencing and posts along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border will be completed.

Re-imagine: The policy said reimagining the society as a tolerant, inclusive and democratic polity will be pursued in order to strengthen a shared vision for the nation. Celebration of cultural and religious diversity will be one of the most important pillars of the new national narrative. A National Cultural Plan (NCP) will be charted to celebrate cultural activities and festivals of all faiths and ethnicities. A national interfaith harmony day will be celebrated annually to promote peaceful coexistence and acceptance of diversity. Education reforms shall continue. Curriculum reforms will be one of the most important components of education system reforms. In collaboration with the provinces, curriculum guidelines and standards will be developed to ensure that textbooks are free of hate content, racial, gender and regional stereotypes/prejudices and glorification of war and violence. Registration and regularistion of madrassas in a uniform manner in all provinces will be ensured. Steps will be taken to ensure the strict implementation of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) regulations pertaining to hate speech, fake news, racial prejudice and the glorification of terrorism and terrorist organisations. NACTA will compile data on Pakistani individuals linked with terror organizations involved in war theatres abroad.

Redistribute: Under the Policy, redistributive mechanisms will be enhanced and expanded to provide social protection to marginalised groups in order to provide social justice. Creating more space for young people within various tiers of government including local bodies will be done. Young people of the marginalised areas shall be uplifted by providing preferred access to colleges and universities as well as vocational training. Marginalised groups such as women, transgender and differently-abled persons will be mainstreamed by facilitating their inclusion in educational institutions as well as public and private sector workforce through affirmative action.

Regional Approach: Pakistan will continue to work with the global community to ensure peace and stability. Pakistani soil will not be allowed to be used by any non-state actor to launch attacks outside the country. In particular, Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity will be implemented to achieve the common objectives of eliminating terrorism and ensuring regional peace. Mechanisms will be developed for intelligence sharing to evolve a joint approach to common threats. A sharp focus will be placed on geo-economics and regional cooperation. Neighbouring countries will be encouraged to be a part of CPEC.

Recognize: Research capacity within the state and society will be enhanced to developed better understanding of security challenges and inform policy in this area. Security Analysis & Research Cell (SARC) at Ministry of Interior run by professionals will be established to provide research and analysis capability to develop a deeper understanding of security challenges. The Counter Terrorism and Counter Extremism Centres of Excellence will be established at NACTA run by professionals to provide research, analysis and training support to various arms of government.

There were 1816 incidents of terrorism in 2014, there has been a steep decline in these since. 66 organisations were proscribed with 7,966 individuals placed under watch as of March 2018. Over 90 per cent of geo-mapping of Madaris has been completed as of present. Over 1.38 million Afghan refugees have been registered under the Tripartite Agreement for Voluntary Repatriation, the most extensive voluntary repatriation programme recorded by the UNHCR.

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