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I am tired of writing about non-implementation of NAP

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While hate-mongering against Pakistan in India and the glorification of war is unfortunate, we in Pakistan need to set our own house in order.

I have been writing on counter-terrorism and extremism for quite some time, and it is frustrating to see how the things I wrote two or three years ago are still relevant today. National Action Plan (NAP), document detailing steps to eradicate the menace of terrorism and extremism was chalked by the country’s leadership following the Army Public School (APS) attack in 2014. It was decided, among other things, that no banned outfit would be allowed to regroup and operate under a different name. Four years on, not only does the NAP remain unimplemented, but the authorities seem to be hell-bent on repeating the mistakes that led to the APS incident and other deadly terror attacks over the years. The powers-that-be were continuously reminded of the importance of implementing the NAP, but everything one says falls on deaf ears. Terrorists and extremists continue to be given an open field to operate. The policy of discriminating among extremists based on their ‘good’ or ‘bad’ status is not over yet, despite what the government and military will have you believe. And I have lost the count of number of times I wrote about how flawed this policy is.

When India blamed Pakistan-based extremist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) for the terror attack in Pulwama, Pakistani authorities denied its involvement and said that Pakistan does not allow any group to use its soil against a neighbouring country. But many denies later, the Punjab government took administrative control of a seminary in Bahawalpur alleged to be the JeM’s headquarters. Over 100 students are reportedly enrolled in the seminary. If the said seminary is indeed JeM’s headquarters, it means we were letting those children and young people be radicalized by an extremist group. When these students end up developing extremist tendencies and pick up guns, the state will have no one but itself to blame.

Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FiF) have been banned by the government, but it is a known fact that they continue to operate with impunity. They are allowed to carry out their activities under the garb of charity work. But as a Pakistani if you question this lawlessness, you will be declared an anti-Pakistan agent who is supporting the Indian narrative by accusing Pakistani government of protecting extremists.

While hate-mongering against Pakistan in India and the glorification of war is unfortunate, we in Pakistan need to set our own house in order. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that met on Friday, refused to remove Pakistan from the terror financing grey list. Pakistani officials seem to suggest that FATF not blacklisting Pakistan for now is an achievement. But the task force has stated that Pakistan “does not demonstrate a proper understanding of the Terror Financing risks posed by Da’esh, Al Qaeda, Jamaatud Dawa, Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and the Haqqani Network.”

Needless to say, Pakistan needs to act against all these groups, not to please the international community, but because the same is in our own interest. Activities of sectarian outfits such as Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) also continue despite the bans imposed on them. ASWJ operates under a different name of Rah-e-Haq Party and also participated in the July 2018 elections. In December, head of banned ASWJ Ahmed Ludhianvi and Specially Designated Global Terrorist Fazlur Rehman Khalil visited North Waziristan on invitation of Pakistan army. A video later released officially featured the extremist leaders praising the Pakistan Army for having restored peace in the region. The projection of extremist leaders as patriotic Pakistanis is not only the violation of the NAP, but also an insult to the blood of the countless victims of terrorism. The government and military leadership must end this policy of tolerance towards banned extremist groups and carry out an across the board action against them.

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