Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Sunday that the role of the provinces in the National Action Plan (NAP) will be restored, saying it didn’t exist in the last four years which he said led to increase in terrorism in the country.
The prime minister referred to the rise in terrorism-related incidents during the last four years against the backdrop of 56 per cent increase in the number of terror attacks in 2021. A report of the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) had revealed that militants carried out 294 attacks, killing 388 people and wounding another 606 in 2021.
“The role of the provinces in the National Action Plan will be restored, which did not exist in the last four years,” the premier said after he chaired a meeting on law and order in Lahore, adding that ignoring provinces’ role in NAP has increased terrorism in the last four years – PTI government tenure.
After Army Public School attack on December 16, 2014, which resulted in killing of 149 people including at least 132 children, a national consensus was evolved to come down hard on the terrorists through a concerted national effort. A 20-point NAP for countering terrorism and extremism was chalked out by interior ministry in consultation with all stakeholders and approved on December 24, 2014, by the parliament.
NAP had spelled out the specifics for the counter-terrorism drive in the country involving provincial governments, which the premier noted on Sunday were allegedly ignored by the previous government.
In Sunday’s meeting, the premier was apprised of the latest law and order situation in the country. PM Shehbaz expressed concerns over the rise in street crime, saying public opinion about police and law enforcement agencies could only be changed by performance.
During the meeting, a briefing was given on the eradication of terrorism and the threats posed in this regard. Also, the measures to curb terror financing and enforcement of laws were reviewed. PM Shahbaz praised the law enforcement agencies for fulfilling the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) conditions, saying the whole nation was unanimously standing against terrorism and stands by its armed forces and law enforcement agencies.
Pakistan, which has been on FATF’s grey list for several years now, will be removed from the list if it successfully passes the onsite visit, FATF president Marcus Pleyer recently said. The purpose of the onsite visit, he said, is to verify the completion of reforms to check whether they are sustainable and irreversible.
“We will continue our struggle till the complete eradication of terrorism,” the PM said. “We will not compromise on Pakistan’s security and defence.” While directing the law enforcement agencies to ensure protection of lives and property of the people across the country, he said ensuring law and order was a key requirement for the recovery and development of Pakistan's economy.
The PICSS report had noted that the lethality of terror attacks rose by 46 per cent in 2021, with 388 total deaths of which 184 were civilians, stating the remaining 192 of those killed were security forces personnel – a 66 per cent increase in the casualties of Pakistani security forces from the year before.
It said that over 600 people were injured in the terror attacks of 2021, including 389 civilians and 217 security forces personnel. The report showed that the average number of militant attacks per month in Pakistan increased from 16 attacks per month in 2020 to 25 monthly attacks in 2021 -- the highest on record since 2017.
Balochistan was the most turbulent province in 2021 where 170 deaths were recorded in 103 militant attacks. PICSS noted that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa saw 162 attacks leaving 180 people killed. In Sindh, it said, 15 militant attacks left 23 dead while in Punjab 10 attacks left 10 people dead. Three militant attacks were reported in Islamabad, resulting in three deaths while a single attack was reported in Azad Jammu and Kashmir in 2021.