ISLAMABAD - The European Union is stepping up its support to counterterrorism efforts in Pakistan with a new €4 million (Rs 704 million) programme.

The additional support responds to the significant terrorism related threats in Pakistan that continue to exist, in spite of a substantial decrease in the number of terrorist incidents as a result of the efforts of the Pakistani authorities, said an EU statement.

The support also reflects the fact that the handling of counter-terrorism cases in Pakistan remains a challenge both at federal and regional level

This new EU support, which is funded by the European Commission’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, is a clear and tangible deliverable in line with the EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan, which was signed by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in June.  This new programme will build on the existing cooperation partnership that the European Union has with the province of Sindh and will contribute towards improving the quality of the investigation, prosecution and adjudication processes of Sindh’s criminal justice system, resulting in combating terrorism and its financing more effectively, the statement said.

Capacity building and training programmes will be carried out for counter-terrorism police officers, prosecutors and judges on the basis of gaps identified through an analysis of terrorist cases.

A ‘Case Management and Monitoring System’ will be developed to improve the work of prosecutors and support will be provided to implement the Sindh Witness Protection Law.  It will also strengthen inter-provincial and federal coordination through the National Counter-Terrorism Authority.

The programme will be implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and will build upon the achievements and lessons learnt of the EU project “Support to Pakistan’s Action to Counter Terrorism, with special reference to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”, which will finish at the end of 2019.