The policy said that global terrorism and armed conflict in Afghanistan had changed the internal security paradigm of Pakistan.
Pakistan's first ever National Internal Security Policy (NISP), apart from addressing critical issues related to threat perceptions ranging from street crimes to nuclear terrorism, envisages a deradicalisation programme which involves integrating madrassas into mainstream education.
The policy tabled by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the National Assembly last week, is aimed at protecting the national interest of Pakistan and includes three key elements: a dialogue with all stakeholders, isolation of terrorists from their support systems and enhancing deterrence and capacity of the security apparatus.
The NISP said dialogue offered a political means to end internal disputes but this is not the only option though it is the most preferred way to bring peace and reconciliation. Doors were open for negotiations with all non-state groups within the limits of the Constitution and without compromising the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state.
The policy said that global terrorism and armed conflict in Afghanistan had changed the internal security paradigm of Pakistan. Its economy suffered a loss of more than $78 billion in the last ten years and nearly 50,000 Pakistani citizens, including 5,272 members of armed forces and law enforcement agencies, were killed.
After Iraq, Pakistan is the country most affected by terrorism. From 2001 to 2013, there were 13,897 incidents in Pakistan, which is marginally less than Iraq. From 2001 to 2005, there were 523 terrorist incidents in Pakistan, but the total number of incidents has risen to 13,198 from 2007 to November 2013. In 2013 alone, there were 1,361 incidents of terrorism.
A trajectory of terrorist incidents in Pakistan shows that after the Marriott bombing in Islamabad and Lal Masjid incidents, the number of suicide attacks in Pakistan increased alarmingly, the policy document said. From 2001 to 2007, there were only 15 such incidents in Pakistan but it has risen to 358, between 2007 and November 2013, which is higher than anywhere else in the world. Another lethal trend is the use of Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs), which has emerged as the “weapon of choice” of terrorists.
The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), designated as the focal organisation for coordinating counter terrorism efforts in Pakistan, in consultation with other institutions supporting NISP, will develop and coordinate a National De-Radicalisation Programme Design. The policy envisages the integration of mosques and madrassas in the national and provincial educational establishment by mapping and then integrating existing and new madrassas and private sector educational institutions.
There are 22,052 total registered madrassas according to government figures. Madrassas for women are also under the scanner after the Jamia Hafsa incident. The policy said a large number of terrorists, either are, or have been students of madrassas where they were brainwashed to take up arms against the state. Therefore, the madrassa and mosque remains an important point of focus for any government policy to stem the spread of extremism in Pakistan.
The policy recognised a need to develop a national narrative based on tolerance, harmony and the right of the people to make religious, political and social choices. Deradicalisation programmes will be conducted in jails for prisoners and terror convicts. The madrassa system cannot be excluded from the internal security parameters of the country, the policy stated. Controlling funding of the terrorists is a major challenge especially when the curriculum in these madrassas does not prepare the youth for the job market. It is proposed to tighten control over foreign funding to non-governmental organisations and madrassas by involving banks, the Federal Board of Revenue and taxation departments to monitor the flow of money to suspected organisations.
The implementation of NISP will require an estimated Rs 32 billion till December 31, 2014. The policy said while military operations in Swat and South Waziristan had removed any doubts about the inability of terrorists to withstand a well coordinated attack in open areas, the security apparatus has been unable to demonstrate other capabilities essential to successful counter-insurgency: to hold, build and integrate. For the latter three, effective civilian follow up capacity is required, which unfortunately has appeared inadequate so far, the policy stated.