Following a detailed meeting over several days, the National Security Committee (NSC) has made some decisions regarding the country’s security and economy, including one that peace is non-negotiable and that Pakistan will implement a zero-tolerance policy for terrorists who challenge its writ. Second, an economic roadmap will help revitalise the economy and provide relief to the people.
For the first challenge, rising terrorism, it has been decided that the federal and provincial governments will lead the war on terror in accordance with the National Action Plan (NAP) and the National Internal Security Policy (NISP). People-centered socioeconomic development will be prioritised, with the armed forces providing deterrence as well as a secure and enabling environment. Provincial apex committees are also being revived, and law enforcement agencies, particularly Counter-Terrorism Departments (CTDs), will be brought up to fighting standards and equipped with the necessary capabilities.
The NSC meeting took place amid fears that terrorism is making a comeback in the country—and with startling speed. It was thus with some relief that reports of the NSC meeting and the subsequent statement regarding ‘zero tolerance’ for terror arrived. Terrorist incidents have occurred across the country, from Balochistan to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Islamabad. Many cities across the country are on high alert. No tolerance is required for anyone who endangers the lives of the people of the country.
The NSC statement is significant because it sends a strong message to local terrorist networks, particularly the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as well as the Taliban government in Kabul. Until now, the Afghan Taliban has denied providing safe havens to the TTP in Afghanistan, but strategic observers have pointed to ties between the two groups and claimed that the Afghan Taliban played a key role in Pakistan agreeing to negotiations with the TTP shortly after Kabul fell. However, the TTP’s constant violations of the ceasefire and attacks on our security forces made it abundantly clear that the decision to negotiate with the TTP was rash. This is why NAP, in its entirety, must finally be implemented in letter and spirit, with no ifs or buts.
On the economic front, the impending crisis is an issue that is also linked to the country’s national security. Those who believe that governance issues such as the economy have nothing to do with the NSC are mistaken. If the economic crisis is not averted, a national emergency will be declared. The NSC has decided to take real actions to strengthen the economy, such as rationalising imports and stopping hawala and unlawful money outflows.
The fact that illegal currency outflows are occurring after Pakistan made a concerted effort over the years to finally eliminate this practise is a concerning trend. Given our fight against money laundering, such illegal actions pose a significant threat to our national security. We hope that because the NSC has all key stakeholders present and has had open and frank discussions on sensitive topics, Pakistan will now take appropriate action in regard to terrorism and our struggling economy.
After all, the best security a country can hope for is a strong economy and empowered people, and Pakistan desperately needs such a turnaround in its current state of affairs, which has been exacerbated by years of misrule and infighting between institutions and political parties. The proof of the pudding, however, is in the eating, and we hope that NAP and NISP are followed in the spirit in which they were created this time around.