Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that it was his top priority to eliminate terrorism and extremism from Pakistan. He made that statement while attending a news briefing on the law and order situation in the country at the federal interior ministry. The prime minister also directed the ministry officials to expedite work on formulation of anti-terrorism and anti-extremism policy.
Nawaz Sharif had promised to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country during his pre-election campaigns. In the General Elections 2013, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) won a majority of seats in the National Assembly and formed the government while Nawaz Sharif was elected as prime minister. Since becoming prime minister, Nawaz Sharif had been issuing statements to devise a cogent strategy to deal with the peril.
To confirm the statement, Truth Tracker contacted the federal Interior Ministry’s spokesman, Omar Hameed, and asked about the progress towards formulation of the anti-terrorism and anti-extremism policy. He said that the ministry officials were working on a draft of the policy as directed by the prime minister, but that it might take months before finalization of the policy because the government had yet to consult chief ministers of all four provinces on formulation of the policy.
Hameed said that the formulation of an anti-terrorism policy was not an easy task. “The government plans to nullify all the past policies on terrorism and extremism and wants to formulate new and effective ones,” Hameed said. “So it will take time.”
Pervez Rashid, federal information minister and federal government spokesman, told Truth Tracker by phone, “The government has been in touch with all the four provinces over the issue. It wants to formulate the anti-terrorism policy in consultation with all the political parties, which is causing this delay. As soon as we get feedback from all political parties, the anti-terrorism policy will be formulated to curb the threat of terrorism and extremism across the country.”
Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based senior journalist and one of the leading experts on terrorism, told Truth Tracker that it had been a few months now since Nawaz Sharif formed the central government, but that they had not yet been able to devise any formal policy against terrorism, let alone take action against militants and extremists.
“Terrorists are killing people across the country on a daily basis while the prime minister’s office has just been reduced to issuing condemnation statements about brutal incidents,” he said.
Raza Rumi, author of Delhi by Heart and director at Jinnah Institute, said that a formal policy against terrorism and extremism was important but that the real thing was to take action against terror outfits.
“Terrorists have established their tentacles across the country. They are killing innocent people while the government is stuck in formulation of the policy,” he said. Rumi further added that the government should initiate action against militants to restore peace in the country rather than debating the anti-terrorism policy.
The data available on South Asia Terrorism Portal shows that as many as 1,284 people, including civilians and security personnel, have been killed in terror attacks across the country since Nawaz Sharif assumed the Office of Prime Minister for the historic third time.
Considering the official statements of the information minister and spokesman for the interior ministry, independent viewpoints and facts and figures of casualties caused by the terror attacks, Truth Tracker rules that Sharif’s statement is mostly false.
Had elimination of terror been a top priority of the government, a cogent anti-terrorism and anti-extremism policy would have been devised before now.