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Kashmir Solidarity Day

“Let us remember here that the future of Jammu and Kashmir is not something that the governments of India and Pakistan can decide without involving the Kashmiri people. How this diverse people’s representatives should be identified, and then associated with the process toward a possible settlement, are crucial if difficult questions, but every human and democratic principle demands this association.”

Professor Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, July 24, 2003.

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Do we need NACTA?

Expectations from National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) had all along been unrealistic; it was over-projected as panacea for all societal shortfalls leading to mushrooming of terrorism. NACTA, for years, has been marred by a dearth of human resource. During the heat of counter terrorism operations, this entity often came under severe criticism for its inaction. NACTA never spoke for itself, at least publically, and found safety in silence. As on September 30, 2017, NACTA was a parking place for 47 (BPS17-22) officers and 90 personnel (BPS1-16). And recruitment of 53 core personnel and 198 (BPS 1-19) was under process. Now, once counter terrorism activities are nearing their fag end, another revival of NACTA is being attempted. Since its inception, there has been a tussle between the Prime Minister’s Office and the interior ministry over operational control of NACTA. Prime Minister has reportedly decided to retain control over Authority. It is a good decision because countering terrorism is a multi-disciplinary activity and interior ministry alone cannot handle it. Other problem is that law and order is a provincial subject and NACAT neither has its provincial extensions nor has control over provincial counter terrorism departments. And unless rules of business are amended, in the role of authority, NACTA would invariably come in conflict with federal and provincial interior ministries. Viable options are: have provincial extensions of NACTA and amend the rules of business governing working relationships between federal and provincial law ministries, create a provision to have countering extremism and terrorism as common responsibility of federation and provinces; Or, disband NACTA at federal level and devolve its functions to provincial NACTAs; Or, reconfigure NACTA from Authority to Commission format with a mandate to define horizons for counter terrorism effort and perform an advisory role to federal and provincial interior ministries. Whatever model is adopted, there is a need to change its composition from an extension of police department and give it a look of a body with national representation. It should have a Chairperson, and slot should be filled by a person of national repute. Beside other tasks it should act as a think tank mandated to keep an eye on all factors leading to mind-set of violence and extremism within segments of Pakistani society; and give viable recommendations for preventing it well before reaching terrorism threshold.

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