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Proper implementation of counter-terrorism laws urged

“Countering terrorism in Pakistan is a generational task because the masses and the rulers, both, have to be educated,” said Shabana Fayyaz, Assistant Professor at the Department of Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, in her concluding remarks at “A Dialogue on Terrorism”, held by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS). A substantial number of laws already exist in the country, but the problem is with their implementation, she added. She said that these laws have been used by different civil and military governments to victimize their political opponents.

The Dialogue was arranged to address the evolution of counter-terrorism legislation in Pakistan and the scope and potential of cyber-terrorism. Cyber-terrorism poses an immense threat to the communication systems at global level, alarmed Zeeshan Shafi, lecturer at Department of Computer Sciences, International Islamic University, Islamabad, who is working on his doctoral dissertation on the subject of “network security.”

Zeeshan Shafi enumerated a number of techniques the terrorists and criminals have used at occasions to jam the entire networks of different national and international organizations. The level of vulnerability is too high for any network and website to be secure, he explained. He also elaborated how the cyber-messages can be altered or redirected so as to subvert the smooth communication between the command and control systems. “Neither any network nor any website is secure,” Mr. Zeeshan told the audiences. Cyber-crimes and cyber-terrorism overlap, hence it is not easy to differentiate between the two.

Another informative presentation on the evolution of counter-terrorism legislation in Pakistan was made by Saba Noor – a researcher at the PIPS. She highlighted a number of developments in the legislation aimed at countering and curbing terrorism in Pakistan, over the decades under different regimes. For the first time, a law – The Public and Representative Offices (Disqualification) Act 1949 – was enacted during Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan’s government to suppress the terrorist activities, told Saba to the audiences. Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 was legislated during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government and “Speedy Tribunals” were also established for the purpose.

Participants and the audiences also took part in the question and answer session. A vigorous debate took place. The audiences were very eager to know more about the phenomenon of cyber-terrorism, its nature and potentialities of the threat. Different views and critical comments were also shared.