Senate passes ‘National Counter Terrorism Authority Bill’

ISLAMABAD: Senate on Wednesday passed “The National Counter Terrorism Authority Bill, 2013” aiming to set up anti-terror body for co-ordinating and interacting with the law enforcement agencies of all provinces, including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to exterminate the menace of increasing terrorism in the country.

The Bill moved by Minister for Law and Justice Farooq H Naek has already been passed by the National Assembly.

The NACTA will be an independent body directly answerable to the Prime Minister. Statement of objects and reasons say, the Bills aims at establishing the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) to unify and orchestrate national counter terrorism and counter extremism measures and provide for their more effective and efficient enforcement.

It would play a pivotal role by coordinating with all law enforcement agencies in taking effective actions against those, who carry out acts of terrorism and extremism besides preparing comprehensive national counter terrorism and counter extremism strategies.

According to the Bill, the Authority will have a Board of Governors to be headed by the Prime Minister including Chief Ministers of all the provinces along with Gilgit-Baltistan, the Prime Minister of AJK, Minister for Law and Justice, one senator to be recommended by the Chairman Senate, one MNA to be recommended by Speaker National Assembly, Secretary Ministry of Interior, DG Inter Services Intelligence, DG Intelligence Bureau, DG Military Intelligence, National Co-ordinator, DG Federal Investigation Agency and Inspector Generals of Police of all provinces, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan as its members.

The headquarters of the Authority will be at Islamabad and it may set up offices at other places in the country. The Board may invite any person to the meeting on special invitation. The Board would exercise all the powers and functions of the Authority. The Board will provide strategic vision to approve policies and annual budget prepared by the Authority.

The Board will be assisted an Executive Committee Comprising its Chairman Minister for Interior, Secretary Ministry of Interior, Secretary Ministry of Law and Justice, Secretary Ministry of Finance, Secretary Ministry of Defence, Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Co-ordinator, Additional Chief Secretary FATA and Chief Secretaries of Provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK, Secretaries home department of the Provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK, Additional Inspector General, in-charge of Counter-Terrorism departments of the provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK.

According to the Bill, there shall be a National Co-ordinator of the Authority and Deputy National Co-ordinator to be appointed by the Federal Government for three years. The Co-ordinator has many powers such as execution of policies and plans approved by the Board; prescribe terms and condition of employees and grant additional allowances or any other incentives; full financial and administrative powers etc.

All Federal Ministries and Provincial departments including corporations, bodies, set ups, controlled or administered by or under the authority of federal or provincial governments shall provide information and data required for carrying out the purposes of the law.

Earlier Raza Rabbani, said before passing the Bill certain flaws must be removed. The authority of civilians has been compromised in the Bill. Bringing Civilian supremacy in the country is impossible with the passage of such bills.

The National Counter Terror Terrorism Authority (NACTA) must be headed by a professional and experienced person whereas the Bill is silent about professional competence of the head of NACTA. The bill does not specify the term of the head of NACTA.

He said in the proposed Board of Governors of the NACTA, there is no provision to induct any professional in the board.

Replying to points raised by Raza Rabbani, Farooq H Naek said the establishment of NACTA was essential to exterminate the menace of terrorism from the country. Intelligence Agency (ISI) has been granted the role of clearance in the Bill as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) does not have required expertise in this regard. Flaws in the bill would be removed with the passage of time.