Islamabad: Stepping up its fight against militancy, Pakistan on Friday announced the formation of a federal counter-terrorism force, directed financial bodies to check funding to militants and set up a panel for implementing the plan to deal with the scourge.
The government has constituted a federal counter- terrorism force with immediate effect, Dawn News reported quoting official sources as saying after a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif where the National Action Plan on counter-terrorism was discussed.
The force would work under the Ministry of Defence and would be deployed across the country. It would be responsible solely for countering terrorism, the sources said.
The force would also keep contact with civilian, military intelligence security agencies and its counter-terrorism wings, the sources were quoted as saying.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had earlier this week announced the formation of a 5,000-strong counter-terrorism force to fight terrorists.
At today's meeting, it was also announced that the Prime Minister will head the panel for the implementation of the counter-terrorism action plan agreed to on Wednesday at a meeting of the mainstream political parties.
The panel includes Interior Minister Nisar, Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
"The finance ministry and the State Bank must monitor funding to terrorists and militant organisations in the country. We will have to stop their funding," Sharif told the meeting.
The State Bank of Pakistan has been directed to supervise anti-terror financing in Pakistan and freeze all accounts which were being used for funding terrorists, Dawn News reported.
"I will personally supervise the implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism, and will make sure that it is swift and effective," Sharif said.
The National Action Plan has been formed to deal with the menace of terrorism in the wake of Taliban's attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in which 150 people, mostly children, were killed.
As part of the anti-terrorism crackdown, hundreds of terror suspects were arrested today while 10 unregistered religious seminaries were sealed with the government stepping up its offensive against militants.
"God forbid, Pakistan may not exist if we fail to eliminate terrorists from our soil," Sharif said, adding "I will go to each and every province to meet the governments and our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to supervise the implementation of the plan."
Describing the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan tribal region as a defining moment in Pakistan's history, Sharif said, "I am giving days not weeks to intensify war against terrorists."
He said, the government would bring about necessary changes in the Constitution to remove hurdles in its war against terrorists.
In a televised address to the nation Wednesday night, Sharif presented a 20-point National Action Plan that envisages the establishment of special courts for the speedy trial of terror accused and a crackdown on jihadi and sectarian outfits.
Under this plan, the army will set up military courts for speedy prosecution of terror accused, raise a 5,000-strong counter-terrorism force to fight militants, train personnel of law enforcement agencies to strengthen the counter-terrorism apparatus and aid efforts for political reconciliation in Balochistan.
The army would prepare and train the force which will be deployed a thousand each in the federal capital and the four provinces -- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.