By Zulfiqar Ahmad
In the wake of the brutal lynching of a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot over blasphemy allegations last week, the federal government has finally decided to review the National Action Plan (NAP) on counter-terrorism as many of its clauses are likely to be abolished.
Talking to journalists after a meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights, Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said on Monday that the government had decided to review the NAP on counter-terrorism following the gruesome Sialkot incident.
The NAP, enacted through a strong political consensus after the 2014 attack on Army Public School in Peshawar, was aimed at taking result-oriented measures to counter terrorism in the country, but it failed to yield the desired results.
Mazari said that the recurrence of such incidents despite, presence of the NAP is not acceptable, adding the need of the hour is that the government should deal with all these vigilante mob, dictating the state, with an iron fist.
She recalled that the Sialkot incident is not the first incident as earlier we had to witness lynching of Mashal Khan, a university student in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, coupled with burning of two Christian community members, but now is the time for action as it is now or never.
The minister said that those misinterpreting the religion and then resorting to lynching innocent people should be reined in, as no one is allowed to distort the genuine religious faith.
Mazari acknowledged growing extremism in the country and maintained that the only way to deal with the menace is: enforcement of the NAP in the letter and spirit. She stressed the need to review the laws for devising a comprehensive strategy to prevent such incidents in the future especially pointing to the NAP.
“We must review NAP and it needs to be seen where the action plan had not been implemented and what we can to strengthen it further,” she added.
The minister came down hard on Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman for his controversial statement in which he had said that if the state did not take action against those accused of blasphemy, then such incidents will continue to happen. However, the JUI-F chief later categorically said that incidents like that of Sialkot should be condemned unconditionally.
However, Mazari was not as severe as she should have been about defence minister Pervez Khattak’s bizarre explanation behind the ghastly mob lynching of the Sri Lankan man in Sialkot last week, saying “he was misunderstood and that his remarks were reported out of context in sections of the media”.
Khattak had suggested that the ghastly incident should not be linked to the government’s decision to lift the ban on the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), saying “murders take place” when young people get emotional.
To a question whether the government planned to ban the TLP after the Sialkot incident, she said the federal cabinet would debate on it before reaching any final decision.
This story was first published in Business Recorder on Dec 7, 2021.