ISLAMABAD: The newly constituted National Action Plan implementation committee is merely an administrative body and both the interior ministry and the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) will continue to have an oversight role in the plan’s implementation, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Formation of the new Implementation Committee of the National Action Plan, headed by National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Naseer Khan Janjua, was formally announced on Monday by the Prime Minister’s Office.
In addition, the interior minister said, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had also formed a committee, so there were “13 committees on [NAP implementation]”.
While he did not specify what the remit of each of those committees was, at least 15 committees were formed to execute NAP when it was first announced.
On Dec 27, 2014, the government announced the composition of these committees, which included ministers, senior government officials and top military officials, such as directors general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Operations.
But committees tasked to deal with matters, such as the persecution of religious minorities, registration of madressahs, sectarianism and media curbs, were kept under civilian control.
Of these, the interior minister was designated as the head of at least 11 committees and was widely regarded as the government’s ‘point man’ on NAP implementation.
Nisar also tells NA agencies have made progress in Quetta blast probe, denies Barrett was ever charged with espionage
In addition, an umbrella committee, headed by the PM himself, was formed to supervise the overall implementation of the plan and included federal ministers for interior, finance, planning, information, defence and Safron, the KP governor and the PM’s adviser on foreign affairs.
Responding to questions from Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MNAs Dr Arif Alvi and Dr Shireen Mazari, the interior minister insisted, “[NAP implementation] is a shared responsibility, and we can only reach a decision after everyone sits together.
“Transparent and proper progress on NAP is only possible if the chief ministers attend the monthly high-level security meeting chaired by the PM. There, targets should be set, a consensus should be reached over contentious issues and the committee should be given a month to work on the nitty-gritty of implementation.”
Stressing the need for coordination with the provinces, he recounted that of the 20 points of NAP, nine exclusively dealt with provincial domains, while eight were related to federal ministries, such as religious affairs, finance, Safron, education, IT and information and broadcasting.
Two points are specifically assigned to the interior ministry and two others are shared; responsibility for the Karachi operation is shared with the Sindh government and the task of SIM verification is shared with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), he said.
He said that in order to ensure proper implementation of NAP, “Decisions should be taken at the leadership-level, one month should be devoted to monitoring, and then, at the next month’s meeting, it should be reviewed who is fulfilling their responsibilities and who isn’t.”
“This committee has nothing to do with parliament, I am available to brief parliament whenever needed,” he said in response to Dr Arif Alvi, who asked why there was no parliamentary representation in the newly-constituted committee.
The interior minister also praised the role of the agencies while updating the house on the investigation into the heinous attack at the Civil Hospital in Quetta. “We have made a lot of progress, but all of it is down to intelligence input. We have picked up a few people, but it is still too early to say anything.”
Stressing that the matter was a top priority for all security and intelligence agencies, he told the house the provincial government had provided two pieces of evidence: “A photograph and fingerprints”.
“The photo showed a young boy, who [it turned out] had nothing to do with this incident, while the fingerprints belonged to a victim of the bombing who belonged to Pishin district,” the minister said.
He also said there are no solid leads in terms of DNA evidence or biometric and facial recognition.
“We found part of a severed head, but it could not be confirmed whether it belonged to the bomber or someone else. The head is also damaged in such a way that it is virtually unusable from an evidentiary point of view,” he concluded.
Blacklisted US citizen
The minister’s remarks came after PTI’s Dr Mazari, on a point of order, asked about the case of US citizen Matthew Craig Barrett, who had managed to sneak into the country despite being persona non grata.
She demanded to know how Barrett managed to get a Pakistani visa within 48 hours and why a man who had been accused of being a spy in the past was not being charged with anything.
“Not in 48 hours, he was granted a visa in 24 hours, which is an even bigger sin,” was the minister’s measured response.
“There are people who have to wait [a long time] to get their visas, so how was Barrett’s processed so quickly,” he observed, adding that Barrett had not completed the visa form and left blank the question about whether he had been deported in the past.
“The inquiry report I have received up to now indicates that it was the concerned visa officer’s fault.”
However, he vehemently denied the impression that Barrett was a spy or that he was ever accused of espionage. “In 2011, he was found wandering near Fateh Jang and engaged in a scuffle with security officials when he was stopped.”
Saying that he had reviewed case records from 2011, the minister maintained that no maps were recovered from his possession, nor did security agencies pursue charges of espionage.
“His father-in-law, who is a lawyer, argued his case before the Supreme Court and he was deported on the orders of the court,” the minister said.
However, when Golra police produced Barrett before Civil Judge Kashif Qayyum on June 11, 2011, a representative of the Jhang Bahtar police from Fateh Jang district had told the court that the US citizen had been booked by them on May 14.
He was charged under Sections 123 and 186 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which deal with ‘Concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war’ and ‘Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions’, respectively.