ISLAMABAD - A Senate panel on internal security here on Thursday showed its concern over the presence of militant organisation Daesh in Pakistan and rejected the government’ stance that the extremist group had no roots in the country.

The Senate Standing Committee on Interior that met with Senator Rehman Malik in the chair termed the presence of Daesh and Al-Qaeda a great threat to the security of the country.

The committee asked the government to provide a list of all terrorists held or killed in the country during different operations along with their photographs.

Rehman Malik told the Senate panel that Daesh was recruiting Pakistanis against salaries in dollars. “Pakistanis are being transported up to the Turkey border through Iran; they are recruited near Turkish border and a river close to Greece and then trained in Iraq only to send them to Syria and other countries,” Malik said. “He questioned if Daesh is not in Pakistan who is behind graffiti of Daesh and who distributed its pamphlets in Karachi.

Rehman Malik further disclosed that Yousaf Salfi and 27 other activists of Daesh had recently been arrested by Pakistani security agencies. Salfi, a resident of Bhara Kahu, Islamabad, was arrested from Lahore, he said, adding he was made head of South Punjab Daesh after his first meeting in Gujranwala with Abu Huraira, an Arab-based militant. “Yousaf Salfi also swore an oath of allegiance to Abu Huraira,” he added.

The chair alleged India, Afghanistan and some other world powers were involved in a sabotage plan against Pakistan.

He requested Afghanistan through the Senate committee to hand over TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah. “I ask the Afghan president to hear the voice of people of Pakistan and give us our chief killer,” he said. He further said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not changed his attitude even after becoming prime minister.

Rehman Malik revealed Ashrat, one of the accused involved in the killing of Ismailis, was working as a frequency controller of a mobile company, another was an IT expert and 11 university students were involved in the Safoora incident. Ashrat, who was later arrested, was heading that network.

He said the committee would summon all the mobile operators to know about the procedure of recruitment and security clearance of their employees. “A mobile frequency controller could cause much more damage,” he pointed out.

Though the government has been using the execution of terrorists as deterrence to terrorism by placing it on top of the 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) on Counterterrorism, but only 53 terrorists could be executed under it since December last year.

The government, soon after December 16 terrorist attack on Army Public School, Peshawar, had lifted partial moratorium on executions of the convicts awarded death sentence in terrorism cases. The government, in March 2015, decided to lift moratorium on execution of all capital punishment cases. The last PPP government placed a moratorium on all executions in 2008.

National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) National Coordinator Hamid Ali Khan told the Senate Standing Committee on Interior that total 137 convicts, including 53 terrorists convicted under Anti-terrorism Act (ATA) and 84 other death-row prisoners convicted under Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) had so far been executed under NAP.

Rehman Malik showed his concern that the number of executions under ATA was very low. The government side conceded that NAP was not implemented in letter and spirit and the performance of the government over the implementation of some of its points was far from satisfactory. “NAP as a whole could not work properly. The performance on some of its points is not satisfactory and the Ministry of Interior is giving attention towards this,” Interior Secretary Shahid Khan said. He told the lawmakers that they would have to understand that it was a difficult and multifaceted task and the government was pursuing it. He said the apex committees had been notified and the government had sent 69 terror cases to the special military courts.

Giving the briefing to the committee on the implementation of NAP, the Nacta chief said that under the reviewed list of the Ministry of Interior, 88 organisations were banned in the country under ATA; 76 were facing sanctions under the UN and 12 were common in both the lists while the provinces had included 18,111 suspected terrorists in 4th Schedule.

Answering the concerns of MQM Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi that some banned organisations were operating freely, the interior secretary conceded that the government had not so far made this proscription effective.

The Nacta national coordinator said that 46,000 combing operations were held throughout the country under the NAP while 49,000 suspects were arrested as a result of these operations. But, interestingly, he revealed only 200 to 300 terrorists could be identified. “As many as 3,019 intelligence-based operations have been held through Nacta under the NAP in all the provinces,” he added.

About the presence of armed militias in the country, Hamid Ali Khan said 3,445 activists of such organisations had been identified.

The Nacta chief told the meeting that Punjab had confiscated 10,000 arms, Sindh 3,000 and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 226,000 arms having no valid licences, during a campaign. “1,400 cases of hate speech were registered in Punjab, 200 in Sindh, 104 in KP and 226 in Balochistan.

The committee was informed that provincial hate speech laws had been amended by Punjab and Sindh while others were doing the same.

About militancy in Punjab, the meeting was informed that 1,135 people were included in the 4th Schedule while 78 firebrand speakers and 649 of their facilitators were also identified.

The committee was told that before the announcement of NAP, the government had no exact data of madrasas as some reports suggested there were 18,000 seminaries, others said they were 22,000 and another reported their number was 29,000. “The government, with the help of the provinces, has started geo-mapping of the madrasas, Punjab has completed this exercise with the total number of 13,230 madrasas while ICT has 450 madrasas," the Nacta chief said.

The committee was informed that 182 cases had been registered against 230 people involved in terror financing.

The meeting was told that all the provinces had raised their own counterterrorism forces. Punjab had recruited 6,500 personnel, KP 1,760, Balochistan 1,027 and Sindh 1,000 while a similar force of 1,000 personnel was being raised in ICT.

The Nacta national coordinator said 19,000 Afghan refugees living in Pakistan with illegal documents had been repatriated under NAP. He said revamping of legislation was being made under NAP and a bill to amend at least seven laws had been tabled in the Parliament.

The committee was informed that 98.5 million SIMs had been biometrically verified under NAP and 5 million had yet to be verified out of total 103 million SIMs. “The Foreign Office has been tasked to sign an MoU with the Afghan government to stop the roaming facility of SIMs of Afghanistan’s mobile companies in the tribal areas of the country,” he said.