ISLAMABAD - The government took almost a year only to make fully functional the official website of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) that was to be strengthened and re-activated under the National Action Plan (NAP) announced in December 2014.
However, the website is still devoid of any valuable information as it has neither a list of banned outfits, as the earlier website contained, nor it describes any steps of the Interior Ministry initiated so far under the national anti-terror plan.
The website only explains 20 points of NAP, some recent news items about NACTA, its associate departments and a few research papers on terrorism. Even the icon of threat alerts provides no information.
The official website of NACTA was made dysfunctional a year before after the top bosses of the Ministry of Interior got infuriated with its high-ups over the posting of a list of banned outfits on it.
The present Interior Secretary Shahid Khan then had come down hard on NACTA management to post the list without his prior permission and slapped one of its officers for doing so. The issue erupted after the publication of a news item that Ministry of Interior had banned Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and Haqqani Network. Though these two organisations had not been banned at that time however the ministry kept silence over the news and neither confirmed nor denied it. However, the NACTA website did not include the names of these two organisations.
NACTA in January 2015 had first removed the list of banned organisations from its website and then the website was made completely dysfunctional silently. The activation and organisation of NACTA was part of the 20 points National Action Plan (NAP) on the Counter Terrorism announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after deadly terrorist attack of Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar
However, the Ministry of Interior in a statement issued on Monday said: “By operationalising the website is an important step to reactivate and re-organise the counter terrorism body.” As per directions of Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the website has now become fully operational to provide authentic information about anti-terrorism efforts of the NACTA, a spokesperson of the ministry said. “The purpose is to keep the people fully updated and provide them authentic information about terrorism related threats,” the ministry said.
Muhammad Amir Rana, security and political analyst said that it apparently looked from the website that NACTA was a think tank and an isolated body. He said the idea behind the establishment of the authority was to give it a role of coordination among all the state institutions with respect to security. “But this could not be done due to the bureaucratic hurdles capacity issues,” he said, adding that the activation of the authority was still a far cry. While giving a recent example, he said, the government had recently merged the National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) of the Interior Ministry.
Now most of the budget of NACTA would be spent to pay salaries of the employees of NCMC, he said. State Minister for Interior Baleegur Rehman in the last session of Senate held in January had told the lawmakers that that an amount of Rs1.06 billion had already been released to country’ premier counter terrorism body during this financial year against its previous demand of Rs100 million. However, the Senate passed a resolution with a majority vote of opposition, asking the government to provide additional Rs2 billion funding for reactivation of NACTA in the face of government’s opposition.