NA passes bill to set up anti-terror authority
09 March, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Lowe House of parliament on Friday passed a key legislation to establish The National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) to integrate and synergise the anti-terrorism and counter-extremism efforts in the country.
The National Counter-Terrorism Authority Bill 2013, moved by Federal Law Minister Farooq H Naek, had a smooth sailing after the incorporation of some of amendments proposed by PPP's Shabir Tariq and PML-N's Sheeren Arshad Khan. The Bill notes that the establishment of this authority is necessary in view of nature and magnitude of terrorists' threat, and it would present strategic policy options to the government for consideration and implementation by the stakeholders after scientifically studying the phenomenon of extremism and terrorism in historic and professional perspective.
The authority will also help develop action plans in this regard and report to the federal government about their implementation. The bill aims at establishing this authority, which is said to be at par with the best international standards to unify and orchestrate national counter-terrorism and counter-terrorism measures and provide for their more effective and efficient enforcement.
NACTA will play a pivotal role in coordinating with all the law enforcement agencies in taking effective actions against those who carry out acts of terrorism and extremism. It will also prepare a comprehensive national counter-terrorism and counter-extremism strategies. Under the amendment moved by Tariq Shabir, the control of the Federal Interior Ministry has been abolished as enshrined in the original draft of the standing committee.
Through another amendment, the body has been declared an independent body answerable directly to prime minister. The board of governors of the authority would have the federal law minister, along with the prime minister as its chairman, and would comprise ministers of interior, finance, defence, chief ministers of all provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan and prime minister of the AJK along with directors general of the ISI, IB, MI, FIA, etc.
Through amendment in clause 6, the presence of heads of various intelligence agencies who are members of the board shall be mandatory in every meeting of the board while taking a decision on any policy matter. The amendment clause 9 allowed the appointment of a professional as national coordinator of the authority, which could also be from the armed forces, contrary to the original draft which excluded the armed forces.
The Bill seeks to establish a fund to be known as NACTA Research and Development Fund consisting of funds received from the federal government, grants made by the international bodies, organisations and entities and such other sums as my be received by the authority. The authority may receive international assistance in the field of counter terrorism and counter-extremism under the prescribed manner.
All the federal and provincial governments and their departments have been bound to assist the authority in carrying out its functions and they would provide information and date required for undertaking the functions subject to applicable laws.