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Counter-terrorism body bill presented in National assembly

01 February, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The PPP government on Thursday introduced a bill in the Lower House of parliament to establish National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA), a demand of the law enforcing agencies to help counter terrorism.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has been long demanding this authority, but surprisingly he was absent from the House, and Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar had to introduce the bill. It seems unlikely that the assembly would pass the bill because of completion of its tenure, however, through the bill the government has put the ball in the assembly's court to speed up efforts to give legal cover to operational activities regarding fight against terrorism.

According to the bill NACTA would comprise 20 members and be headed by the prime minister, while the chief ministers of all the provinces, heads of intelligence agencies (civilian and military), ministers for information, finance, foreign affairs, defence, inter-provincial coordination and prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir would be its members.

It will address the need for a focal institution to integrate and synergise the national counter-terrorism and counter-extremism efforts in view of the nature and magnitude of terrorists' threat, and present a strategic policy option to the government for consideration/implementation by the stakeholders after scientifically studying the phenomenon of extremism and terrorism in historic and professional perspective.

The authority would also develop action plans in that regard and report to the federal government about their implementation, said the statement of objects and reasons of the bill. It would be set up within 30 days of the promulgation of this act. The government also introduced a controversial Defence Housing Authority Islamabad Bill 2013 over which opposition PML-N had serious reservations. At the beginning of last year, opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had even threatened to block this bill by force when the government tried to bring it to the House.

The creation of new provinces in Punjab kept haunting the House when members from both sides of the aisle took on each other. Outspoken women lawmaker of PML-N, Temina Daultana, took to task Punjab Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood for what she said was 'betrayal from his own commitment' for having denied creation of Bahawalpur as separate province. Addressing Daultana, PPP's MNA Mahmood Khan, alias Tochi Khan, said that the new provinces in Punjab would come into existence come what may.

Meanwhile, Nadeem Afzal Gondal said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has practically suspended the government by imposing a ban on recruitments and development funds. "The ECP can do this once the election schedule is announced, therefore, it has no jurisdiction to pass such orders at this juncture," he argued. "If the government has to remain suspended in this fashion, it would be better to announce election schedule," he added.

PML-N's Anusha Rehman, while pointing towards latest revelations regarding the Kargil War, said that action should be taken against the three generals involved, but the entire army should not be blamed for their deeds. Earlier in the day, Maulana Fazalur Rahman-led JUI-F again staged a walkout from the House in protest against imposition of governor's rule in Balochistan.


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