ISLAMABAD - As National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) could not succeed to get any funds for its reorganisation during the incumbent fiscal year 2014-15 despite government’ announcement, now hopes are high that the government would allocate funds in the upcoming budget for the key counter-terrorism body of the country.
Senior officials at the Ministry of Interior believe that it is likely that the government would allocate reasonable funds for the re-organisation of NACTA in the upcoming budget for fiscal year 2015-16 unlike the hollow announcement they heard last year in this regard.
Key government officials dealing with the counter terrorism operations of the country view that NACTA, the focal department at the federal government to coordinate all anti-terrorism operation in the country, could not be strengthened and re-organised without allocation of huge funding.
However, Secretary Interior Shahid Khan gave a different view, some days ago, before a parliamentary panel, saying that the funding was not the issue for the re-organisation of NACTA but some operational matters were involved in its activation. He was of the view that funding was one of the aspects of this issue. A version that is unacceptable for many other key government officials.
The strengthening of NACTA was at point number four of the government’ 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) on Counter Terrorism that was announced after December 16 incident of terrorism attack on school children in Peshawar. However, the government totally ignored this important point of NAP and never implemented in letter and spirit.
A senior government official wishing not to be named said that NACTA through the Ministry of Interior had been seeking funding, during the present budgetary year, from the Finance Minister especially after the announcement of NAP in December last year. But it could never get funding. The ministry had moved a latest summary seeking Rs96 million from the Finance Division for the activation of counter terrorism body, he said. “The government had sent back this summary to the ministry raising some objections and we had answered to all these objections,” the official said.
Before this, NACTA had sent a summary of Rs46 million to the government prior to this. At the moment, NACTA is working with a very few number of staff and most of the posts at the authority were lying vacant.
Back ground interviews with some senior police officers indicate that any police officer having expertise in counter-terrorism or anti-terrorism was not ready to serve in NACTA on the present terms and conditions of pay package. NACTA does not provide additional benefits to the police officers and on the other side, the officers deputed in the field duties get more perks and privileges, a senior police officer and having an expertise of counter terrorism operations commented. “During field duties, police officers get official accommodation, official vehicle, personal servants and a number of other facilities,” the officer also said and added that you would get nothing while serving in NACTA except normal salary. “Why a police officer would prefer to work in NACTA on such conditions,” he viewed. He said that special salaries packages would have to be introduced for the officials working in NACTA to make the authority a more effective body. This is because the officers dealing with counter-terrorism field operations would also prefer to work in the authority.
NACTA was created in 2009 and former senior police officer and ex-director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Tariq Pervez had conceived its idea to coordinate all counter-terrorism operations in the country and to coordinate all intelligence-based information in this regard. “It (NACTA) would work as a think tank and would conduct research, propose measures and to chalk out a national counter terrorism action plan after consulting all stakeholders,” former interior minister Rehman Malik had said when the authority was established during last PPP regime.
Incumbent Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had also announced to form a Joint Intelligence Directorate under NACTA where all intelligence agencies of the country would work and share intelligence with one another. But the idea of Joint Intelligence Directorate could not be materialised due to lack of funding.