Civil, military leaders join heads to knock out terror

* Nawaz orders immediate formation of Rapid Response Force and National Intelligence Directorate to boost efforts against terrorism

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Tuesday that the political and military leadership has held a detailed discussion on the Internal Security Policy. 
Talking to newsmen after a meeting on the country’s internal security, which was chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the minister said the leadership was informed about the dialogue with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the participants expressed their confidence in the process. He said that the political and military leadership are on the same page on issues of national security. The interior minister said that the Internal Security Policy would be implemented according to the set timelines. 
The meeting was attended by the four chief ministers, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Zahirul Islam, Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Ashfaq Ahmad Nadeem and Military Operations DG Major General Amir Riaz.
Nisar said the leadership focused on issues of capacity building of security forces and increasing coordination among 26 intelligence agencies working in the country. A joint intelligence directorate would be set up to coordinate activities of the intelligence agencies, he added. The minister said the objective of all the efforts was to make Pakistan secure.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed immediate establishment of a National Intelligence Directorate (NID) under the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) to pool national and provincial intelligence resources. The prime minister also approved establishment of a Rapid Response Force at the federal and provincial levels, having highly trained and skilled manpower. Chief secretaries and inspectors general of police of the provinces and senior government officials also attended the meeting, which reviewed the newly legislated legal framework dealing with counter-terrorism measures. 
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also directed fast-track establishment of high security prisons in all provinces. He directed the provinces to utilise the options available in the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance, saying this law had made electronic evidence admissible, allowed video link trial with provision for transfer of trials and prisoners to other provinces, and preventive detention of enemy aliens.
The military operations DG, ISI deputy director general and the interior minister briefed the meeting on different aspects of internal security issues. Prime Minister Nawaz said the provincial governments and institutions had to work hard to establish a secure environment by eliminating terrorism, as economic prosperity was linked to security and peace in the country. He also reviewed the capacities of the federal and provincial law enforcement agencies and said the provinces needed to work more to ensure admissible evidence and efficient prosecution in heinous offences within time limits.
The government approved the first national Internal Security Policy last month, which called for the establishment of the response force and of counterterrorism departments within police forces in the next six months. The policy document had criticised the military for being “unable to demonstrate other capabilities essential to successful counter-insurgency: hold, build and integrate”, adding it was up to civil institutions to take up the slack.
The government opened negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) last month in a bid to end a bloody insurgency which has cost thousands of lives and cost the economy tens of billions of dollars. The process broke down for more than two weeks after militants killed 23 kidnapped soldiers, but later resumed after the Taliban announced a month-long ceasefire. In an effort to take the talks to a higher level, the government last week formed a new four-member committee to begin direct contact with the Taliban.
Prime Minister Nawaz expressed satisfaction over the current progress on talks with the Taliban and reiterated that the talks should be held in accordance with the constitution. He said the federal government will extend all possible resources to the provinces to implement the national security policy for eliminating terrorism. The prime minister said that it is the high time to take the final decision to overcome this menace and bring peace to the country. He also said that Taliban should deal with groups opposing the dialogue process on their own. 
Taliban negotiating committee member Professor Muhammad Ibrahim said on Monday that the TTP list of 300 women and children prisoners has been given to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

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