ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to review the role and functions of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) after its chief himself described dismal performance of the country’s premier counter terrorism body since its inception.

The prime minister revealed this while chairing the first-ever meeting of the Board of Governors of NACTA here at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday since the NACTA Act was promulgated in March 2013.

A suggestion also came in the meeting about the disbanding of NACTA following a response of NACTA chief that there was no need of the body; however, some senior officials at the meeting opposed this idea.

The defence minister, finance minister, law minister, chief ministers of four provinces and Gilgit Baltistan, prime minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir, minister of state for interior division, director general Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), secretary interior, national coordinator NACTA, chief secretaries, and provincial police chiefs attended the meeting as members of the Board besides other senior officials.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office after the meeting 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.

It added that the committee would submit its recommendations to the prime minister in a week time. However, the statement did not mention names of the head of committee and its members.

However, well-placed official sources aware of the developments informed The Nation that the PM decided to review role and functions of the Authority after newly appointed National Coordinator (NC) NACTA Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak discredited his own institution while briefing the meeting about its performance.

The NC NACTA briefed the meeting about the mandate and the role of the organisation since its establishment as a premier body for policy formulation and implementation of national terrorism and counter violent extremism strategy, the PM Office’s statement said.

The official sources informed that the NACTA chief in his briefing said that performance of all former NACTA chiefs remained miserable and they had done nothing during their tenures. Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak, a senior police officer of grade 22, also said that he was new in the organisation and there was nothing to show at the credit of NACTA.

Upon this, the PM questioned as to what was the need to spend public money on an institution that has done nothing in the past, an official said.

Replying to the PM, Mr Lak said that there was no need of NACTA.

The official informed that even a provincial chief secretary suggested to the meeting that NACTA should be disbanded if there was nothing to its credit to show its performance. However, some senior officials opposed the idea of disbanding the Authority

The official privy to the development said that the NC NACTA in his initial briefing to the meeting, painted so much gloomy picture about the performance of the Authority that the meeting diverted its attention towards the role and functions of the body instead of focussing on the agenda of the meeting. He said as it was the first-ever BOG meeting of the Authority, the meeting had to give approval to annual expenditures of the body and the major administrative decisions taken by it during the last five years. However, the meeting left its agenda unattended with the decision that the role and functions of the body should be reviewed first.

The section 7 of NACTA ACT 2013 regarding powers and functions of the BoG says that the Board shall “recommend rules and approve policies and manuals” as well as “approve the annual budget prepared by the Authority.”

A senior government officer, who has served in NACTA, wishing anonymity, said it was wrong to say that NACTA had done nothing since its establishment. The counter terrorism body has formed first-ever National Counter Extremism Policy and National Narrative on Counter Extremism besides it has done a lot of work on Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT, he added. The body had also initiated youth engagement program on countering extremism, the official added.

According to the statement of PM Office, the meeting also reviewed, in detail, the progress on implementation status of 20 points of National Action Plan (NAP). The statement says that PM Imran Khan in his remarks stated that Pakistan had come a long way in its fight against the menace of terrorism and countering violent extremism.

In this struggle, continued the Prime Minister, Pakistan had offered the highest sacrifices of the lives of thousands of its civilians and the security personnel. Lauding huge services and contributions of the armed forces, intelligence agencies, police and other law enforcement and security agencies, the prime minister observed that improved security situation today was a result of combined efforts of all stakeholders.

Deploring the fact that not even a single meeting of the Board of Governors of the premier body could be convened since its inception, the prime minister pointed out that the neglect of the past government resulted in the lack of focus on improving the functioning of an important organization. The section 6 of NACTA Act says that “the Board may meet as and when required but it shall meet at least once in each quarter of a year.” However, the last two prime ministers including Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi did not hold a single meeting of the Board.

The PTI-led government, last month, had appointed Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak as NACTA’s national coordinator.

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. During the past some years, the previous government had allocated extra funds for the Authority to make it a powerful institution as part of the NAP and its annual budget was increased up to 1.5 billion rupees.

The official website of the NACTA says that the authority was “reorganised as federal authority vide NACTA ACT 2013 to act as a focal national institution and unify state response to counter-extremism and terrorism by combining the efforts of law enforcement and intelligence agencies and by formulating and implementing policies and action plans through continuous research, adaptive innovation and ancillary mechanisms.

 

 

PM orders reset of Nacta role