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Category — AF-PAK ISIS

Islamic State flag spotted at Islamabad bridge

by Tahir Niaz in The Nation, Sept 25, 2017
ISLAMABAD – An ISIS flag was spotted hoisting at a bridge by a commuter in the federal capital near the main highway on Sunday morning.

The pedestrian bridge near Iqbal Town area where the flag of the international terrorist organization was spotted is six-seven kilometers from the city centre.

According to details, Khanna police removed the flag hoisted by unidentified persons on Sunday afternoon after a resident of Dera Ismail Khan informed Rescue 15 of the matter.

The matter was reported to Khanna police by Naveed Ahmed Khan son of Ahmed Khan.

Khan is currently a resident of Jinnah Garden, Islamabad.

After being informed, the police reached the spot and immediately removed the flag.

The police took the informer to the police station to get his statement recorded.

In his application to the police, Khan said that on the morning of 24 September 2017, he was travelling on the Expressway in Islamabad when he spotted ISIS flag hoisted at a bridge near Iqbal Town.

He said that he recognised the flag as he had seen it a number of times on television before.

Khan said the flag had Islam’s “declaration of faith” inscribed on it.

“I called the police on Rescue 15 and they reached the spot. They removed the flag and took me to the police station for recording [of] the statement,” he said, in his application.

Minister of Interior Ahsan Iqbal also took notice of the matter and asked the inspector-general of police, Islamabad to submit a report in this regard.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied the presence of the ISIS on its soil.

It however has acknowledged the rise of ISIS in Afghanistan as a point of concern.

When contacted, the officials at the police station said that the police was investigating the matter.

It had yet to register a case till the filing of this report. No arrest has so far been made in this connection, the police said. http://nation.com.pk/national/25-Sep-2017/islamic-state-flag-spotted-at-islamabad-bridge

September 25, 2017   No Comments

First Trump, then China: as Pakistan loses support it should lose the pretence on cross-border too

By Tom Hussain in South China Morning Post, Sept 9, 2017
The writer is an Islamabad-based journalist and Pakistan affairs analyst
In 1992, when Pakistan first came under international diplomatic pressure to halt terrorist attacks on India emanating from its territory, Islamabad’s chief diplomat and the architect of its modern-day strategic alliance with China, Akram Zaki, told me: “Pakistan’s foreign policy is in a minefield without a map”. It still is.

By naming Pakistan-based terrorist groups in the declaration issued at the end of the BRICS leaders meeting in Xiamen on Monday, China has publicly reminded its all-weather ally that the time has come for it to put an end to its relationships with non-state actors.

Coming two weeks after US President Donald Trump issued a humiliating ultimatum to Islamabad, and ahead of a diplomatic support-seeking tour of Beijing, Moscow, Ankara and Tehran by Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif, the timing and multilateral context of the message is definitive.

China may be working overtime to help Pakistan negotiate a way out of a diplomatic dead end, in part to protect its multibillion-dollar “Belt and Road” investments, but the onus is on Islamabad to come to terms with the changing realities of Asian geopolitics.

The most daunting challenge for Pakistan is to come to terms with the folly of a self-defeating narrative which paints Afghanistan and India as bigger sponsors of cross-border terror than itself.

While there is considerable truth to the Pakistani assertion that dirty wars are being waged against each other by most states with a stake in the “Great Game” in Afghanistan, two wrongs do not make a right. Besides, China has stayed above the fray, making its growing role as a neutral arbiter acceptable to all.

Nor does it help Pakistan that its almighty military leaders refuse to allow a constructive introspection of their dubious policies. They reacted vindictively when leading English-language newspaper Dawn last October cited Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry as telling a meeting of civil and military leaders that China had “indicated a preference for a change in course” of Pakistan’s handling of jihadist groups.

Rather than heed Chaudhry’s advice, the military accused the government of conspiring to humiliate it and forced then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to sack Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed for leaking the story. The newspaper was vilified as “anti-state” and social media activists critical of the military were disappeared and allegedly tortured.

They were painted as traitors and blasphemers, making them vulnerable to assassination by extremists.

But it’s one thing to force a narrative down the throats of a captive domestic audience, another to expect foreign governments, friendly or otherwise, to buy into one.

In the aftermath of the Trump ultimatum, Pakistan misinterpreted Chinese statements of moral support as unconditional backing for its untenable diplomatic position. Pakistanis were even led to believe China’s diplomatic backing would render the country immune to feared acts of American retribution for Taliban and Haqqani network attacks planned on Pakistani soil.

The falsehood of the narrative was exposed by the Xiamen declaration because its wording, rather than being a sudden change of China’s position, was a facsimile of the statement signed last December by all the participants of an India-hosted round of the “Heart of Asia” multilateral conference on Afghanistan, including China and Pakistan.

The subsequent “rejection” of the BRICS declaration by Pakistani Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan on Tuesday was another bizarre example of how denial is undermining the credibility of Islamabad’s position.

Foreign Minister Asif did well to limit the damage by countering that Pakistan should “put its own house in order rather than embarrassing its friends”.

At the heart of it all lies Pakistan’s refusal to acknowledge cross-border terrorist activity continues to be conducted from its territory. This is emblematic of the country’s lack of leadership, which is the product of the deep internal divisions created by incessant bickering between competing arms of the state.

Time and again, terrorist groups have exploited these divisions at great cost to Pakistan. The Haqqani network faction of the Afghan Taliban was largely responsible for prolonging the Pakistani Taliban insurgency in the northwest Waziristan tribal regions bordering eastern Afghanistan, described by the Obama administration as the epicentre of global terrorism. Ultimately, Pakistan had to deploy a third of its standing military to overcome them.

In turn, Afghanistan-focused militants and Pakistani Taliban insurgents have drawn support from anti-India groups in eastern Punjab province, such as Jaish-i-Mohammed and Jamaat-ud-Dawah. They cynically camouflage their terrorist credentials by posing as patriots fighting against India, whereas they have long been part of al-Qaeda’s network. Members of the groups helped Osama bin Laden take refuge in Abbottabad, where he was killed by US special forces in May 2011.

Pakistan’s decisionmakers would do well to revisit the recommendations made by an army task force of three army colonels in 1990 to disarm militants returning from the Afghan jihad against Soviet occupation.

They were overruled and had to bear the brunt of the fateful decision. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani went on to serve as Pakistan’s army chief of staff for six years at the height of the Taliban insurgency. As chairman of Pakistan’s joint chiefs of staff, Tariq Majid had to endure the kidnapping of his son-in-law by terrorists. Both foresaw that jihadis would undermine the legitimacy of Pakistan’s campaign against Indian rule in disputed Kashmir, the centrepiece of its foreign policy. Pakistan’s present army chief of staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, now faces a similar choice. www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2110392/first-trump-then-china-pakistan-loses-support-it-should-lose

September 24, 2017   No Comments

India ‘not responsible’ for Pak-Afghan tensions, says diplomat

By Asad Zia in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2017.
PESHAWAR: The Afghan consul general in Peshawar has said that India is not responsible for failing relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Speaking at a seminar on Afghanistan International Day on Saturday, Dr Abdul Waheed Poyan said “Pakistan believes India harbours militants in Afghanistan” to destabilise its western border.

“But it is just their perception and is not true. Our relations with India have nothing to do with the Pak-Afghan relationship,” he said at the seminar organised by Regional Forum for Peace and Development at the Peshawar Press Club.

The consul general went on to say that Afghanistan, like the rest of the world intended to and had the right to maintain cordial relations with all its neighbours. “We want to have good relations with all neighbouring countries, particularly Pakistan, and we respect advice from them, not directions,” he said.

Poyan stressed the need for every citizen from both countries to play their role in maintaining inter-country relations and use their interpersonal contacts and play a positive role, instead of just depending on their politicians.

He added that maintaining peace in this region “is the need of the hour and keeping the same in mind it is pertinent for Afghanistan to have functioning relationships with all its neighbours”.

The Afghan envoy described the Pak-Afghan relations as much stronger than those shared by other countries and said that both the countries should work together to resolve issues and eliminate cross-border tensions.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan have shared history and culture, while both the countries’ people want peace. Terrorism has negatively affected the culture of both,” he said.

Committing to joint efforts for achieving sustainability and peace might help dissipate the mistrust between the two countries, he suggested. The seminar was attended by well-known Pashto poets, activists, students and politicians.

September 24, 2017   No Comments

US mulling dropping Pakistan as an ally: UK publication

report i n the Express Tribune, Sept 16, 2017
The Trump administration is considering dropping Pakistan as an ally as it examines tough measures to quell more than 20 terrorist groups it says are based in the country, a UK publication had reported.

Financial Times reported that officials familiar with the Pakistan prong of Washington’s new “AfPak” strategy — which involves an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan and praise for India — say it has yet to be fleshed out. But they have plenty of levers.

President Donald Trump last month promised to get tough on Pakistan, accusing it of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting”.

The administration has already put $255 million in military aid on hold after Trump announced the policy shift. It is eyeing an escalating series of threats, which include cutting some civilian aid, conducting unilateral drone strikes on Pakistani soil and imposing travel bans on officers of the ISI, the country’s intelligence agency.

It could also revoke Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally or designate it a state sponsor of terrorism. The latter options would limit weapons sales and probably affect billions of dollars in IMF and World Bank loans, along with access to global finance.

Relations are expected to take a further blow from US efforts to forge closer ties with rival India.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said this week it was “unfair” to blame his country for troubles in Afghanistan, adding that the US should have greater respect for its efforts to combat militancy. Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Pakistan in the wake of 9/11, says Pakistan resents the wild oscillations in support from the US.

“They went from our most allied of allies to our most sanctioned of sanctioned,” he said, recalling that the US worked with Pakistan to defeat Soviet Russia during the 1980s Afghanistan invasion but, once it had won, cut aid and imposed sanctions over its emergent nuclear programme. “Their narrative about us is here today, gone tomorrow and it has deeply affected their strategic thinking.” https://tribune.com.pk/story/1508324/us-mulling-dropping-pakistan-ally-uk-publication/

September 18, 2017   No Comments

Torkham border crossing closed after twin blasts

by Ibrahim Shinwari in Dawn, September 16th, 2017
LANDI KOTAL: Six security personnel and three civilians were injured in two grenade attacks near the Pak-Afghan border crossing at Torkham on Friday.

The border crossing was immediately closed to traffic and pedestrian movement following the twin blasts, which were carried out from the Afghan side of the border, said officials.

Khyber Agency Political Agent Khalid Mehmud told Dawn that footage of closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) installed at Torkham confirmed that two grenades were hurled by unidentified men from across the Afghan border.

“One of the grenades exploded at the Frontier Corps (FC) centre close to the border’s zero-point, while the other landed on the main road nearby,” he said, adding that six FC men and three civilians, including a child, were injured.

Mr Mehmud said the injuries were not of serious nature and four of the victims were discharged from the hospital after medical assistance.

The injured FC personnel were identified as Lance Naik Amanullah and sepoys Salman Ali, Lateef, Abdul Jalal, Zia and Faheemullah.

Names of the injured civilians could not be known, but it was learned that an Afghan national on the other side of the border was also injured in the attacks.

The Torkham border security officials imposed a curfew at the border and surrounding areas while restricting movement of Afghans to Peshawar and other cities.

Political Agent Mehmud, Commandant of Khyber Rifles Col Farrukh Humayun and other security and administrative officials reached Torkham to oversee security arrangements at the border.

Following the twin grenade blasts, officials of both countries held a brief meeting in which they agreed to take tough security measures to prevent cross-border attacks in future.

The Afghan officials were informed about the possible involvement of Afghan nationals in the attacks as was revealed in the CCTV footage.

Officials said a decision regarding reopening of the border would be taken on Saturday (today) after consultations with higher authorities in Islamabad. https://www.dawn.com/news/1358050/torkham-border-crossing-closed-after-twin-blasts

September 16, 2017   No Comments

US conduct first airstrike in Pakistan after new strategy declaration

By Khaama Press – Sat Sep 16 2017, 11:07 am
At least three Afghan Taliban members were killed in an airstrike in the tribal regions of Pakistan in what appears to be the first US drone strike after the announcement of the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

According to the local officials, the airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of Kurram Agency in the tribal regions of the country.

The officials further added that an unmanned aerial vehicle fired missiles on a gathering of the Taliban insurgents.

According to the officials, at least three of the militants were killed and two others were wounded in the attack.

The identities of those killed in the airstrike have not been ascertained so far with the Taliban group yet to comment regarding the raid.

This comes as the Afghan and US officials have long been criticizing Islamabad for remaining reckless to act against the Taliban and Haqqani terrorist network sanctuaries as they claim that the leadership councils of the two groups are based in the key cities of Pakistan from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan, including some of the deadly attacks on US forces.

While announcing the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia last month, the US President Donald Trump strongly criticized Pakistan regarding the terror sanctuaries, saying “For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen.” www.khaama.com/us-conduct-first-airstrike-in-pakistan-after-new-strategy-declaration-03449

September 16, 2017   No Comments

Flour mill was being used as Daesh HQ: report in The News, Sept 12, 2017

PESHAWAR: A flour mill in the suburbs of the provincial capital where two key militants were killed during an encounter in June was functioning as the headquarters of Daesh for the last many months, a source said.

A top commander of the group Khalil and one of his accomplices were killed while five security personnel were wounded in the encounter. Police and army had jointly carried out the operation.

The source said the group was involved in the killing of three policemen in Chamkani a few days before the operation. Police in retaliation had killed one attacker in Chamkani incident, who was later identified as militant commander Mustafa.

The source said that the flour mill that had been abandoned for the last 15 years was also being used for issuing press releases and other literature of Daesh. Police killed three members of the ring in two actions while many facilitators were also held. Police had also held the owners of the mill for negligence on their part. They were, however, later released on bail.

According to senior police officers, the group was involved in around 20 target killings of police and other security personnel as well as other major terrorism incidents in the last couple of years.

The watchman of the flour mills who was using it for militant activities was arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department a couple of years back from where he was
sent to Central Prison Peshawar. Days before the June operation, the watchman was deported to Afghanistan after imposing a fine of Rs5,000 on completion of his sentence.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/229271-Flour-mill-was-being-used-as-Daesh-HQ

September 12, 2017   No Comments

After Trump, now Brics: By Imtiaz Alam in The News, Sept 7, 2017

The writer is a senior journalist.
As the country’s top ambassadors meet in Islamabad to contemplate Pakistan’s response to President Trump’s recently announced policy on Afghanistan and South Asia, Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation seems almost complete with the naming of UN-designated terrorists which operated from Pakistani soil for the first time in the Xiamen Declaration of the 9th Brics Summit in China.

Where will the envoys draw the line this time compared to the last time they had met for such a consultation and had recommended certain policy inputs that they thought would help them sell a revised and consistent foreign policy the world would be, at least, ready to listen to?

Brics – a forum of the fast-growing developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – has expressed its: “concern on the security situation in the region and the violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates including [the] Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, TTP and Hizbul-Tahrir”.

With this declaration, Islamabad could stand isolated globally on the issues of ‘cross-border terrorism’ that Pakistan has now, at least at the policy level, pledged to curb and has also decided to not to let its territory be used for terrorism against other countries since the unanimous passage of the National Action Plan. But let’s not forget that the ‘leakage’ of the quite known views expressed by former foreign secretary Ayaz Chaudhry in the National Security Committee of the cabinet is also said to have contributed to the ouster of the Nawaz Sharif government.

For India, this declaration is a big diplomatic achievement since its efforts to get Pakistan-based banned (and renamed) LeT and JeM included in Brics’ Goa Declaration was frustrated by China last year. Much earlier, the UN Security Council had designated JeM and LeT as terrorist organisations in 2001 and 2005, respectively. It is indeed good to recall that the same terrorist groups were also mentioned in the Amritsar Declaration of the 6th Ministerial Heart of Asia Conference on Afghanistan in December 2016; the declaration was endorsed by Pakistan and China as well.

However, Islamabad continued to take solace in blaming both Afghanistan and India for allowing and using Afghan soil for a proxy war against Pakistan. Indeed, both Islamabad and Rawalpindi were right in their allegations against both the aforementioned countries with regard to backing the TTP and other renegade terrorist groups for terrorism across Pakistan, but the Pakistani state could not absolve itself of not being equally tough with the ‘good Taliban’. But somehow, despite an apparent shift in policy – as repeated by both successive civil and military leaderships – to not to differentiate between ‘good and bad’ Taliban and not to let any terrorist groups use Pak territory for terrorism against any other country, we continued to take flak from international community on the footprints of these groups being seen to be behind various acts of terrorism.

These groups continue to exist under various pseudonyms and the camouflage of ‘welfare’. Amid a treacherous metamorphosis, they are now becoming the bulwark of fascism at the cost of the civil society, and are sanctified as the guardians of our ‘ideological frontiers’. In a delayed, flawed and self-serving ‘de-radicalisation’ process, they are defining the national narrative on a broad range of policy issues, including jihad, Islamisation (in reality, sectarianism), foreign relations and internal and external security policies. In fact, more than challenging India and checking its brutal suppression of the Kashmiri struggle, such groups pose a much greater threat to Pakistan’s internal security and inter-faith harmony.

The change in the Chinese position on Pakistan-based militant outfits has come after India and China came to an agreement over a 73-day military faceoff on the unsettled Dokalam area close to the Sikkim sector claimed both by China and Bhutan; the latter is now not very inclined to lay claim on the territory and is expected to mend fences with China to, perhaps, keep equi-distance from the two joint neighbours. Indian Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping were to meet at the sidelines of the Brics Summit for what Indians described as “forward looking” discourse to put Sino-Indian relations on the “right track”, according to the Chinese side. The Brics Summit was in fact on ‘emerging markets and developing countries dialogue’ for their greater role in the global market, but it was taken over by the crisis created by the test of a hydrogen bomb by North Korea, something that can make Beijing-Washington relations reach a very tenuous situation.

President Trump’s sabre-rattling apart, Brics has come firmly against tougher sanctions or retaliation against North Korea and has, instead, asked for direct dialogue with Pyongyang. For Beijing, the Korean Peninsula’s security is more important than the Indo-Pak conflict. Moreover, they are no more enthusiastic to compensate for our extended security agendas or conflicts with our neighbours. They want us to focus on CPEC and engage with neighbours the way they are doing with India; the Sino-Indian model of economic cooperation is presented as a blueprint for negotiating border disputes.

For Pakistan, Kashmir remains a principal issue and we have learnt that the Kashmiri democratic struggle no more requires ‘guest fighters’ who now bring a bad name to their genuine aspirations. Jihadis for Kashmir are a liability and counter-productive. They are, rather, a threat to the safety and cohesion of our civil society. Pakistan can never sell its narrative to the world and will remain in jeopardy with the Haqqanis or LeT or JeM in its closet in any way.

On Afghanistan, Brics has very strongly expressed its desire for an end to the conflict and asked for a political resolution of the unending conflict through available mechanisms, including bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral, multilateral and also Moscow and Istanbul initiatives. We must respond to the American overtures and Afghan President Ghani’s speech on this Eid offering “comprehensive political talks” since in his view “peace with Pakistan in our national interest”.

It is also in Pakistan’s national interest to have cordial relations with Afghanistan. We have lost so much for our Afghan policy for far too long, including all those ‘friends’ that we had helped too long. It is a no-win policy and must be drastically changed in favour of an Afghanistan that ensures peace within and at its borders with us.

To Pakistan’s relief, Brics has also included the TTP in its list of terrorists; that provides a ground for a quid pro quo. For that, we will have to revisit our Afghan policy and attitude towards the Haqqani Network. Indeed, it is not our job to sort out the Afghan Taliban or the Haqqanis, but we cannot also provide them any relief by endangering our own country at the same time. As they now claim to have captured more than 40 percent of Afghan territory, they must find their own way.

If at all our facilitation is required for a political reconciliation in Afghanistan, we should be willing to do our bit – however limited or effective it might be. Our national interest is in keeping our north-western and eastern borders secure and not letting proxy wars destabilise us. Why doesn’t Pakistan follow the advice of the Chinese president to have peaceful neighbourly relations with all neighbours and let all the countries of the region join hands against terrorism and against any support to any terrorist group against one another? It is time the Foreign Office told the power players to get over the hangover of Gen Zia’s destructive policies, which Pakistan can least afford now.

September 7, 2017   No Comments

Pakistani insurgent among 4 Taliban blown up by own explosives in Kunduz

By KHAAMA PRESS – Thu Aug 31 2017, 8:04 pm
At least four insurgent including a Pakistani national were killed after an Improvised Explosive Device went off prematurely in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.
The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army in the North said the incident has taken place in the vicinity of Imam Sahib district.
The Shaheen Corps officials said the militants were attempting to prepare the Improvised Explosive Device to be placed on a roadside when it went off.
The officials further added that a Pakistani national who was involved in the engineering works of the roadside bombs was also among those killed.
The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.
The anti-government armed militant groups frequently use explosives materials for the roadside bombings and car bombings to target the government staff and security personnel.
However, in majority of such incidents the ordinary civilians are targeted besides such bombings incur casualties to the security personnel and in some cases the Taliban militants themselves are killed or wounded.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in its latest reported highlighted that 40 per cent of all civilian casualties during the six-month period were killed or injured by anti-government forces using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as suicide bombs and pressure-plate devices, which were responsible for the deaths of 596 civilians and injured 1,483.http://www.khaama.com/pakistani-insurgent-among-4-taliban-blown-up-by-own-explosives-in-kunduz-03360

September 1, 2017   No Comments

Policy being devised to avert Daesh threat : by Azaz Syed in the News, August 30, 2017

ISLAMABAD: In a move to avert the threat of Daesh or Islamic State (IS) in the country, Pakistan has decided to formulate a formal policy regarding the suspected citizens involved in international conflicts.

Security agencies are collecting data on Pakistani citizens suspected to have travelled to the Daesh-affected parts of the world including Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and have not returned to Pakistan.

“We have collected the data of those travelling abroad, particularly of those who travelled to the militancy-hit countries and did not return. We are trying to find out the real reasons for militants to go to these regions,” said Ehsan Ghani, the chief of National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) in an exclusive chat to this correspondent.

According to a Nacta report, a copy of which is also available with The News, the government has convened multiple meetings of federal and provincial-level stakeholders to assess the threat.

The sources claim that the decision to avert the threat was taken at a recent high-level meeting. In this regard, data of the Pakistani citizens, who have travelled to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other conflict hit areas, has been collected through Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The report says that the data received from the provinces is at the verification stage following which Nacta would prepare a policy recommendation paper.

They claim that a special focus is being laid on those who have not returned to Pakistan despite the expiry of their visas. “We have a lot of data of those who did not return from these areas but we cannot say all those, who went to conflict-hit areas, are terrorists as some of them could have gone there to reach Europe or find a job even, so we are doing ground verification,” added Ghani, when asked about the people who are still in the above-mentioned regions without any legal cover or having their visas expired.

In this regard, the sources claim that there has been no formal interaction between Pakistan and Iran or Pakistan and Afghanistan so far to identify such people using their intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The sources claim that authorities are concerned about the possibility of the Daesh threat spreading in the country, especially as there is a plethora of jihadist mindset having fought in Afghanistan against Russia and against the US and its allies.

According to Asfandyar Mir, a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Securry and Cooperation and an expert on armed groups in South Asia, Daesh presents a unique threat which Pakistani policy makers are rightly concerned about. According to Mir, “Although Daesh doesn’t have much military strength in Pakistan for now, it is certainly the more attractive brand for the budding jihadists.”

According to the Nacta report, there are a total of 8,333 suspected militants across the country who have been placed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 which bars them (who is placed on Fourth Schedule) to not leave the area of their police station jurisdiction without the permission of station house officer (SHO) and brings them within the orbit of some other minor restrictions.

Previously, the people – who have remained trained fighters and were known as Afghan-Trained Boys (ATBs) or men who remained in the Afghani prisons, known as returnees of Afghan prisons (RAPs) – were also part of the Fourth Schedule but now there is a shift in the previous policy.

The sources claim that this time the Pakistanis, who travelled to Afghanistan and Iran since the start of the current year but haven’t returned, are the main focus.

Earlier in March this year, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had warned that the Islamic State (IS) wants to recruit young people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Experts say that Pakistan’s proactive action against Daesh also reflects the dual view Pakistan has towards armed groups.

“In Pakistan, Daesh is getting the short end of the stick because of its ideology. Daesh professes a radical ideology which challenges the Pakistani state and military, something that groups like the Afghan Taliban and Haqqanis don’t do,” Mir adds.

Meanwhile, the Nacta – Pakistan’s only civilian counter-terror institution –has set up a special task force at its headquarters.

Ghani revealed this while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior at the headquarters of National Database Registration Authority (Nadra). The committee met with MNA Rana Shamim Ahmed Khan in the chair and was briefed on the National Action Plan (NAP) by the Nacta chief.

Ghani gave his detailed briefing on the steps taken by the government to chock the terror financing in the country. “The taskforce on terror financing is regularly coordinating with already set up provincial Counter-Terror FinancingUnits (CTFUs) and other stockholders on the issue,” he said.

Almost six months back, all the provinces established CTFUs on the directions of Nacta. In this regard, the provincial law enforcement agencies are applying and taking steps to chock terror financing in their respective areas.

The Nacta chief, who has recently fought a successful war against a serious ailment, said the authority had also framed a model law for regulation and facilitation of charities as well as to ensure safe charity practices in the country.

The authority had shared the model with all provinces to enact the same in order to stop collection of donations by illegal entities and misuse of charity; however, charity can be given to deserving people, he said.

Ghani added that the Nacta issued standard operating procedure (SOPs) for strict implementation on the model law, especially during the days of Eid-ul-Azha.

He said other measures to curb terror financing included policy on branchless banking and obligatory money declaration.

He said the authority had sent a detail brief to Pakistan’s missions abroad about the steps taken against terrorists and extremists in the country and successes achieved during anti-terror operations.

According to a recent US country report on terrorist attacks in 2015-16, he said, terrorism-related violence in Pakistan declined for the second straight year in 2016. Pakistan ranked 4 among the countries hit most by terror attacks in 2016, while it was third in the same report in 2015, he said.

The countries most heavily suffering from terrorism in 2016 were Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Nigeria, Syria, Turkey, Yemen and Somalia.

He said the terror incidents in Pakistan had significantly declined as the country witnessed 2,061 terror attacks in 2010, 785 in 2016 and 426 in 2017 till date.

Talking about the registration and regulation of religious seminaries, Ghani said registration data forms had been finalised in consultation with Ittehad Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Pakistan (ITMP), and the federal and provincial governments, adding that the provinces had started implementation.

He said the law enforcement agencies had arrested 272,065 suspects during various operations since the approval of NAP. “The law enforcement agencies have conducted over 3,572,615 stop and search operations and 8,253 intelligence-based operations in various parts of the country,” he said.

The Nacta chief said since the approval of NAP, 416 convicts had been executed, including 383 in Punjab, 18 in Sindh, seven in KP, seven in Balochistan and two in AJK.

Following the recommendations of apex committees and Ministry of Interior, a total of 190 cases have been transferred to military courts, of which 28 are from Punjab, 30 from Sindh, 86 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 43 from Balochistan and three from Gilgit-Baltistan. The military courts have decided 49 cases while 147 are still under process, he said.

He said in total, 1,352 cases had been registered for hate speech and spreading hate material. These included 958 in Punjab, 106 in Sindh, 191 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 51 in Balochistan, 13 in ICT, 10 in AJK and 24 in Gilgit-Baltistan. The law enforcement agencies also arrested 2,528 people and sealed a total of 70 premises on the above-mentioned charges, Ghani added.

The Nacta chief said 17,746 cases had been registered for misuse of loud speaker and 18,458 people were arrested.

Regarding establishment of Counter-Terrorism Force (CTF) in the country, he said Punjab had recruited 4,300 personnel in CTF against the sanctioned strength of 5,000, Sindh 728 against the sanctioned strength of 1,000, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 2,080 personnel against the sanctioned posts of 2,206, Balochistan 1,000, ICT recruited 500 against the sanctioned strength of 1,000, while Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK recruited 168 and 260 personnel for CTF respectively.

He said since the launch of Karachi operation, target killing incidents had dropped by 97 per cent, murders cases by 87 per cent, terrorism by 98 per cent and robberies by 52 per cent.

Ghani said there was visible improvement in law and order in Punjab as effective operation had been launched by law enforcement agencies to curb militancy in the province.

About elimination of militant militias in the country, he said law enforcement agencies had arrested 265,193 terror suspects.

He said the last date of return for the proof of registration card holder was December 31, 2017. The Ministry of Safron in consultation with Nadra had finalised an operation plan for documentation of unregistered Afghan refugees, he said, adding that draft National Refugee Law had been developed and shared with all relevant stakeholders.

A representative of Nadra briefed the committee on the current status of blocked CNICs, while the Ministry of Interior official shared details of the new licence policy and extension of visa policy.

The parliamentary body constituted a sub-committee under the convenorship of MNA Kanwar Naveed Jameel with the ToRs to visit the Central Jail Karachi and probe into the prisoners’ complaints.

MNAs Syed Iftikhar-ul-Hassan, Shahid Hussain Bhatti, Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpur, Kanwar Naveed Jameel, Salman Khan Baloch, Naeema Kishwar, Sher Akbar Khan, Shazia Marri and Kishwar Zehra besides senior officers from the Ministry of Interior, Nacta, Ministry of Law and Justice attended the meeting. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/226997-Policy-being-devised-to-avert-Daesh-threat

August 30, 2017   No Comments