ISLAMABAD - National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) has compiled and started verifying data of Pakistan-based suspected militants, who have been allegedly involved in foreign conflicts, fearing blowback effects especially after the defeat of Islamic State (IS) in some parts of Iraq.

National Coordinator (NC) Nacta Ihsan Ghani Tuesday informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior that the authority had completed data of Pakistan-based suspected militants who have been fighting in foreign conflict zones like Iraq, Syria or Yemen etc.

“We are now getting this data verified from the federal and provincial institutions to know their exact figure,” he said while briefing the committee on the implementation of National Action Plan (NAP). After the verification of data, policy recommendations would be formed to avoid any blowback effect on Pakistan, said a non-working paper prepared by the authority.

Giving the reason of collecting the information, Ghani told the committee, which met under the chair of MNA Rana Shamim Ahmad Khan, that the militants would start returning their native countries especially after the defeat of IS from Iraq on the pattern the militants had returned from Afghanistan. It is yet to be verified that whether these people had gone to conflict zones for fighting or to earn their livelihoods, he said.

While talking to The Nation after the meeting, the Nacta chief without giving the exact number of the would-be militants said that the authority had got data of those Pakistanis who led towards conflict zones but did not return home till their visas expired. “Now we are verifying about their activities from their home addresses,” he added. An official source in the authority informed that NACTA has also collected the data of those Pakistanis who travelled to such zones via Iran or through other destinations.

Ihsan Ghani also informed the committee said that NACTA had formed National Counter Extremism Violent Policy as part of the soft steps to eradicate terrorism and the same had been approved by the government. This includes improvement of governance as well as cultural revival. MNA Shazia Marri commented that the draft of the policy should be shared with the parliament.

While giving the point-wise briefing on implementation of 20 points of NAP, the NC NACTA said Task Force on Choking Financing for Terrorism (CFT) had been established at the authority to coordinate efforts of all stakeholders. “Similarly, choking financing for terrorism (CFT) units in provincial counter terrorism departments (CTDs) have been  established as part of the implementation of the action plan with regard to choking of terror financing,” he said.

He said that provinces had been asked to legislate model law for regulation and facilitation of charities. Asia Pacific Group of Financial Acton Task Force (FATF) will evaluate Pakistan’s efforts to check terror financing in October 2018, he added.

Ghani said that NACTA had got rationalised list of those activists of militant organisations placed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 in consultations provinces during six months.

After sifting of list, there are total of 8,333 activists on the Fourth Schedule and out of these accounts of 5,023 suspected persons have been frozen besides placing embargo on issuing them passports as well as arms licenses and getting financial serves through banks , says the non-working papers presented to the committee. “Similarly Rs300 million have been frozen of such suspected persons,” he added.

Ghani said that NACTA was deeply assessing the acquittals and convictions in terrorism cases to improve conviction rates and provinces would be advised in this regard. He said the counter terrorism authority was in process of developing an app for assessing the hate speech. The local authorities could upload any hate speech to the app and the same would be seen by the authority.

Commenting on the briefing, PPP MNA Nawab Yousaf Talpur said that US should inform about these achievements who was criticising Pakistan with regard to its efforts on war on terrorism for no reasons. NC NACTA said that the authority had shared a brief with the important foreign missions of Pakistan about the achievements made so far to ensure reduction in terrorism. “They have been asked to share with the foreign governments if they are challenged at this front,” he said.

MNA Naeema Kishwer Khan asked for complete ban on foreign funding of terrorists and deplored that the activity was still going on.

A number of lawmakers complained that the government was misusing the law of placing activists of militant organisations under Fourth Schedule and using it for political motives. They said that people were wrongly included in the schedule and then it took years to get the name excluded. Ihsan Ghani viewed that there was no problems with ATA 1997 that permits for placing any name under the schedule but the issue was of its implementation. The law in details describes the procedure for including or excluding any name in the Fourth Schedule, he said.

The additional secretary of the interior ministry told the participants that a national wide campaign would be started for the confiscation of unlicensed arms after the grace period of 90 days being given to all arms license holder to get these re-validated from the ministry. 

He said that the people have revalidated more than 0.2 million arms licenses out of them more than 0.4 million, both prohibited and non-prohibited, issued by the federal government. He also said that a committee had been formed under the chair of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to review the policy of prohibited and automatic weapons as the premier completely wanted to ban these.

DG (Operations) NADRA Brigadier (Retd) Nisar Ahmed said that the district level committees formed through the notification of the Ministry of Interior to clear blocked CNICs of allegedly confirmed aliens were getting poor response from the card holders. He said that only 3,423 cases were under process and 2,064 have been cleared as 5,513 applicants have applied so far out of the 162,315 blocked cases of such CNICs.