National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA): A wise step by the people’s government

Pakistan creates Counter Terrorism Authority
Sat, 12 Dec 2009

The move comes days after series of terror attacks in all major Pakistani cities that had left hundreds of people dead.

The Pakistani government has established an agency called National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) in a move to counter the current wave of violence in the country. According to Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the purpose of the authority is to reinforce the ongoing counter terrorism efforts.

“It would work as a think tank and would conduct research, propose measures and to chalk out a National counter terrorism action plan after consulting all stakeholders”, Malik said, adding that the prime minister had approved the idea, and a budget for the project had also been sanctioned.

The minister said the authority would have an intelligence wing which would operate in collaboration with the various other intelligence agencies and would strengthen the intelligence network in the country.

He explained that NACTA would act as a research organization for which the EU had pledged 15 million euros. He said Interpol had also shown interest in the authority.

The move comes just days after a series of terror attacks, in all major Pakistani cities, that left hundreds of people dead.

Interpol lauds Pakistan for setting up counterterrorism body
Share: by hussain

ISLAMABAD: Interpol Chief Khoo Boon Hui has praised Pakistan for setting up the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA), hoping that it would promote greater coordination between intelligence agencies in fighting extremism and terrorism, it was learnt here on Wednesday.

An official source said wishing anonymity that in a letter addressed to NACTA National Coordinator Tariq Parvez, the international police chief said that setting up of NACTA was “a strong testament to the commitment of Pakistan towards addressing the menace of terrorism.”

“The NACTA serves as an effective counterterrorism mechanism by promoting greater coordination in efforts directed at combating terrorism,” he said in the letter delivered here last week.

Pakistan has been the frontline state in the US-led global war on terrorism launched after September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that had killed nearly 3,000 people.

It has been under intense international pressure to do more against Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who according to the US officials are using Pakistan’s north-western region as safe havens and planning attacks against the Western targets.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani set up the national authority last month and tasked it to draw up a national strategy in consultation with all the stakeholders to boost counterterrorism efforts.

Pakistan has paid a heavy price in fighting terrorism losing some 2,000 soldiers and suffering an unprecedented spate of suicide bombings and other acts of violence since it joined the US as an ally in the so-called war on terror.

EDITORIAL: Countering terrorism

The government’s decision to establish the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) is a welcome move. NACTA will serve as a focal institution to “coordinate and unify” national counter-terrorism efforts. It seems as if we never do anything when the need has been palpably felt for some time or until we are nudged from abroad. For the last two years, it was obvious that without a coordinating super-agency to bring all the intelligence and security organisations together, the struggle against terrorism would always be fought with one hand tied behind our backs. Fortuitously, since the European Union (EU) has pledged15 million for NACTA, the government has finally given it a green signal. Interpol, too, has expressed interest in this agency. Had this agency been formed earlier, things might have been quite different. Logically, the optimal path would have been to pool all the intelligence in order to pre-empt terrorist attacks. Arguably, because of lack of coordination, gaps emerged that were inevitably exploited by the terrorist networks.

Prime Minister Gilani has announced that NACTA would have three wings: one to counter extremism, second to counter terrorism and the third for research and analysis. Tariq Pervez — former FIA director general — has been appointed Chairman NACTA. It is not clear, however, whether the military and civilian intelligence agencies would answer to him.

There has been some criticism of the Interior Ministry lately as it has failed to pre-empt or stop terrorist attacks in recent months. Though this is inherently a difficult task, without good intelligence and with a lack of coordination at the national level, the ministry was hampered in countering terrorist activities. The intelligence agencies need to boost their efforts to infiltrate the terrorist networks. Although it is in the nature of the intelligence agencies not to share information with others, it is advisable at this point in time that they submit their reports vis-à-vis terrorism at least to NACTA. The terrorists have united under one roof, whereas our intelligence agencies work separately. This has made the task of the terrorists far easier. Thus it is very important that our security forces, police and intelligence agencies cooperate with each other to help eradicate terrorism from our soil.

The newly appointed NACTA Chairman said that once the agency becomes functional, a ‘national action plan’ would be drawn up, in addition to periodic threat assessment reports. These steps are of vital importance as the terrorist networks have to be dealt with with an iron hand. Military operations alone cannot serve the purpose; a proper plan of action is required to ensure that the terrorists are crushed. The belated move to establish a counter-terrorism agency at the national level is a step in the right direction. It is hoped that it lives up to expectations.

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