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Govt decides on strategy to wipe out vigilantism

• Parliamentary panel briefed on security policy
• Senate committee seeks legislation to check misuse of blasphemy laws

ISLAMABAD: Political and military leadership on Monday decided that the government would pursue a ‘comprehensive strategy’ to stamp out religious extremism and vigilantism.

The decision was taken at a meeting convened to review the security situation in the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the session that was attended by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yousaf, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and senior military and civil officers.

Discussions at the meeting were dominated by the recent incident in Sialkot where a mob had lynched a Sri Lankan national Diyawadanage Priyantha Kumara over allegations of blasphemy.

The meeting, the PM Office said, resolved to bring the perpetrators to justice.

It decided that strict punishments would be awarded to the perpetrators and a comprehensive strategy for curbing Sialkot-like incidents would be implemented.

“Individuals and mobs cannot be allowed to take the law into their hands and such incidents cannot be tolerated,” the participants of the meeting asserted.

The PMO statement also praised the bravery and courage of Malik Adnan, who resisted the mob in an attempt to save Mr Kumara. The prime minister a day earlier had announced that Mr Adnan would be awarded Tamgha-i-Shujaat for trying his best to protect his colleague from the violent crowd.

Security policy

The Parliamentary Committee on National Security was, meanwhile, briefed on the broader contours of the national security policy being prepared by the National Security Division.

While briefing the committee, Dr Yousaf said the policy was “designed to leverage the symbiotic relationship between human security, economic security and military security with the prosperity and safety of citizens as its principal focus”.

Economic security, he said, was at the core of the comprehensive security concept being put forward by the new policy.

The NSA gave an overview of efforts put in to prepare the strategy since 2014 when the National Security Division was created. It would be the first national security policy once finalised.

Several rounds of feedback consultations on multiple drafts were held with all state institutions, including provincial government and the governments of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he said. Over 600 academics, analysts, civil-society members and students across Pakistan, he added, had also been consulted to make the policy process inclusive.

The NSA said the policy was expected to be a dynamic document that would be “reviewed each year” and “on the transition of government” to help keep it abreast with priorities in a fast-changing global environment.

A statement issued by the National Assembly Secretariat said that the participants of the meeting ‘endorsed’ the efforts for the preparation of the policy.

However, members belonging to the opposition boycotted the meeting.

Legislation to check misuse demanded

In a separate meeting, members of the Senate Committee on Revenue and Finance unanimously and unconditionally condemned ‘the barbaric lynching’ of the 49-year-old foreigner.

The committee also passed a resolution urging the government to take swift and exemplary action to punish the perpetrators and facilitators of this heinous crime against Islam and humanity.

The resolution condemned the misuse of the name of religion and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to commit such unforgivable crimes against another human being and assured the family of the victim and the Sri Lankan nation that the entire nation stood with the victim’s family to make sure that justice is served.

The Senate committee, however, commended Malik Adnan and others who displayed the real spirit of Pakistan by risking their lives to try and stop the angry mob.

It also called for the parliament to revisit the laws to ensure strong safeguards against their abuse and misuse for personal or political gains and to call a special session to address and prevent any such extreme acts of violence in the future.

Ahmed Mukhtar Naqshbandi

Media person and communication expert for over 25 years. Worked with Dow Jones News, World Bank, CNBC Pakistan, Aaj TV, ARY TV, Abbtakk TV, Business Recorder, Pakistan Observer, Online News Network, TTI Magazine and other local and world Publications.

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