The government has put more than 5,400 suspected militants on a new terror watch list, in a fresh move to swiftly execute a crackdown against sympathisers, financiers and facilitators of banned outfits across the country.
As part of implementation on the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism, these suspected terrorists were included in the list under the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, a legal tool that allows the government to catalogue all those involved in terrorism.
“The fresh crackdown is being conducted by civilian forces with cooperation of intelligence operatives,” an official monitoring progress on the NAP told The Express Tribune on Friday.
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa home department has put some 2,572 suspects on the list — most of them linked with banned organisations, he revealed, adding that more than 1,896 suspected terrorists have been placed on the list by the Punjab home department.
The Sindh home department placed the names of 479 suspects on the terror watch list. Similarly, the Balochistan government has identified 400 suspects, Islamabad police 50, and the Gilgit-Baltistan government has named 23 militants, the official added.
The Punjab government, he said, has registered 540 cases against those who violated loudspeakers’ laws while the federal capital police has also arrested 115 people and registered 176 cases against those who violated laws related to hate speech and loudspeakers.
“Military with cooperation of FC has extended crackdown against insurgents in four more districts,” Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said.
Operation was conducted in Zhob, Qilla Saifullah, Ziarat and Kohlu and around 113 militants fighting for separatists were arrested during the operation, he said, adding that “terrorists must be treated like terrorists.”
Spokesperson Home Department K-P Qamar Ali said crackdown against suspected militants was at its peak and hundreds of suspicious people are being listed on a weekly basis.
Once a person has been placed on this fourth schedule of ATA 1997, he/she can be asked to report to the police station periodically, he explained.
A person under the fourth schedule could be monitored by the agencies particularly his movements, his accounts and his communications can also be scrutinised, he also said.
Blocking bank accounts
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan directed all relevant departments to block bank accounts/financial transactions and all kinds of funding of proscribed organisations/NGOs or any other individuals or organisations having connection with militants or terrorist activities.
A databank and monitoring network is being established for all the proscribed organisations so that all such organisations re-emerging secretly or under new names should be shut down, he said.
Monitoring social media
The interior minister also directed ministry of information technology to work in close coordination with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the intelligence agencies and international monitors to close down all terrorism related websites/web based messaging services and other terrorism-related material on the internet and social media, according to an official statement issued after a meeting to assess the progress on the NAP.
Afghan refugees’ registration
The registration of Afghan refugees, which has already been started, will move ahead on a fast-track basis and all of them should be shifted back to camps at the earliest, it stated.
The participants also decided that bank accounts of Afghan nationals will be filtered by the financial monitoring unit of the ministry of finance in coordination with FIA and intelligence agencies, and all information shall be shared with the National Counter-Terrorism Authority for scanning all such accounts involved in suspected transactions. All such business activities and bank accounts which are operating without due legal requirements will be blocked, they decided.
Over 100 million unverified SIMs will be verified within the next 85 days after which the possessing or sale of any unregistered/unverified SIM will be made a cognisable offence.
Meeting on madrassas
Today, a detailed discussion to take final decision on registration of madrassas will take place to discuss their suspected connections with militancy and terrorism.
Heads of all major madaris will participate in this meeting which will be chaired by the interior minister.
The Capital Development Authority was directed to chalk out a detailed plan in consultation with police within a week to identify illegal/unregistered Afghan refugees in and around Islamabad in order to facilitate their movement to their camps.
It was further decided to demolish all illegally constructed high structures near sensitive installations in Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2015.