By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: Nearly 140 people in Gilgit-Baltistan have been placed in the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 to maintain durable peace in a region that will play a crucial role in the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
The number is low compared to that from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, where thousands have been put in the same schedule.
Schedule-IV of ATA, 1997 deals with people who are not directly involved in terrorism activities, but whose affiliation with banned outfits or previous criminal record makes them suspicious. They are kept under surveillance by the police to remove the possibility of their involvement in any terrorism activity in future.
“The regional government has no direct role in the preparation of the schedule,” an official in the G-B information department, Farooq Ahmed, said on Monday.
He added the action was taken based on reports from police and intelligence agencies after getting approval from the federal interior ministry. “The decision wasn’t taken on political grounds,” said the official, dispelling rumours that the PML-N government had placed political opponents in the schedule.
The statement came days after the Pakistan Peoples Party regional president questioned the utility of the decision, accusing the government of vandalising opponents.
The decision to prepare a list was reportedly taken at an apex committee meeting held recently with G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman and senior army command in attendance.
An official statement issued from G-B’s home department said earlier that appeal may be filed within the next 30 days by individuals with reservations over being placed under the schedule. They may file against the decision and plead their case.
“The imposition of the fourth schedule is a must to maintain law and order. The government will resist all political pressure,” read the statement.
The G-B government has taken extra security measures after intelligence reports suggested the region could be targeted by terrorists to sabotage CPEC which passes through the region.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2016.