Pakistan is collecting data of its nationals who are suspected of waging jihad abroad along with terror groups, an senior official said, amid fears of blowback from them especially after the defeat of the Islamic State in parts of Iraq. About 100 Pakistanis have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State since the rise of the dreaded terror group in the Middle East, a media report had said. The National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior was told yesterday that National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has begun the process of compiling the data. The authority had completed the task of data compilation on suspected militants who had fought in conflict zones such as Yemen, Iraq or Syria, NACTA chief Ihsan Ghani was quoted as saying by the Dawn news. “We are in the process of having the data verified from federal and provincial departments,” he told the committee during a briefing on the status of implementation on the National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism and extremism.
The verification process would help shift those who went to these areas to earn a livelihood from those who posed an actual threat. The aim of the exercise was to minimise the blowback on Pakistan as the Islamic State (IS) fighters are returning to their native countries after the group’s defeat in part of Iraq. Ghani detailed measures to choke terrorists’ financial networks, saying that a task force had been established under the authority to coordinate efforts in this regard.
However, the number of such militants was not immediately available. Progress on updating the list of those individuals who were placed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 was also shared with the committee. The bank accounts of around 5,000 of the more than 8,000 individuals on the list had been frozen, he said, while they could no longer be issued passports or gun licences.
Ghani revealed plans to develop a mobile phone app to assess hate speech, where local authorities could upload any suspected speech on the app, which would relay it to the authority for vetting. He also apprised the committee of a national policy to counter violent extremism, which had been approved by the government.
Iraqi forces reseized second city of Mosul from IS in July after a nine-month battle. They are now fighting the last pocket of jihadists in the northern province of Nineveh.