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March 21, 2017

No terrorists’ network in Pakistan, claims Nisar

Top Story

March 21, 2017

Tells Senate he never talked of going soft on sectarian terrorists

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday told the Senate that there was no terrorists' network in Pakistan as all such banned outfits had been eliminated after the Operation Zarb-e-Azb and now Operation Raddul Fasaad. 

He categorically denied having talked about going soft against those involved in sectarianism in Pakistan, but pointed out certain loopholes in the law, which were being plugged through legislation.

He was speaking in response to a discussion, held on a motion, signed by 15 senators, belonging to the joint opposition, excluding the PTI, in the House on the ‘implications of his statement this year in which he made a distinction between the banned terrorist outfits and the proscribed sectarian organisations in Pakistan.

Opposition senators alleged that in his speech in the Senate on January 10, 2017, the minister drew a distinction between terrorists and sectarian militants, who played football with (human) heads and that there must be no difference between terrorists and sectarian militants, indulged in killings of innocent people.

They called for tracing the facilitators of terrorists and sought in-camera briefing as to who exactly they were, saying without taking on them, the menace would not be eliminated. The opposition came under fire from the government senators, who accused them of being non-serious on the matter they raised through the motion, as out of 15 movers, only three were present in the Senate to speak on it. 

Ch Nisar made it clear that neither terrorist organisations nor sectarian outfits were allowed to operate in Pakistan, adding there existed now no headquarters of terrorist organisations in Waziristan, following the Zarb-e-Azb operation, which were operating from across the border. The minister claimed his statement was totally misinterpreted and insisted there must be no political point scoring on security issues.

The minister said that the noose around terrorists and sectarian elements was to be tightened and collectively legislation would be brought in the two Houses. Already, he noted, the security situation had massively improved after the launch of Zarb-e-Azb and operation Raddul Fasaad, backed by a number of actions by the law-enforcement agencies.

He emphasised eradication of terrorism from Pakistan was a shared responsibility of all the stakeholders, including federal and provincial governments, security forces and civil law enforcement agencies, people of the country and media and they should play their role in this regard to make the country a cradle of peace.

Ch Nisar maintained that all the efforts for elimination of terrorism should be above political motives. He added that the terrorist organisations were not allowed to operate in the country at any cost.

He said during the intelligence based operations, thousands of facilitators, financiers and helpers of the terrorists had been arrested across Pakistan. Ch Nisar said that the leadership of the proscribed sectarian organisations had also been apprehended. But certain leaders, who faced no cases, continued holding public meetings and calling on government functionaries, even in the past, as they could not be barred from doing so as per the existing law.

However, he pointed out the proscribed sectarian organisations had a number of followers or workers and action could not be taken against them without any proof of their involvement in any terrorist activity.

The Ministry of Interior and Nacta, he explained, had been asked to plug the gap for which legislation was to be enacted to address this loophole and he sought support of all the political parties in this connection.

The minister again said when the PML-N government took over, five to six incidents of terrorism used to happen daily, which had now been reduced significantly and terrorism incidents occurred after passage of weeks and even months.

He complained that none spoke when the very person, who was part of the delegation consisting of JUI-P, JI and other parties’ representatives that had met him, had been allowed to contest election while the caretaker government took no action. He also noted that there was no noise when a PML-N lawmaker was de-seated and he was notified as an MNA.

Earlier, PPP’s Senator Sehar Kamran moved the motion in the House and said that action should be taken against all the banned outfits and proscribed organisations without any distinction. She alleged that the National Action Plan (NAP) was being implemented selectively and called for strong action against sectarian groups.

MQM’s Col (retd) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said good seminaries must not be touched but the proscribed groups, including the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Taliban must be eliminated, who were involved in killings of Hazara community, just because they were Shias and another community at Safoora.

“There must be no good or bad sectarian terrorists and if the government has banned certain outfits, indeed, there will be a collective wisdom behind it and how they can be spared. Sparing them will be like undoing sacrifices of the army and other agencies,” he said. He reminded the minister that the banned outfits could not hold public meetings and other activities.

Maulana Tanvirul Haq Thanvi of MQM noted that after the Zarb-e-Azb operation and sacrifices of the armed forces, there had been a marked decrease in terrorist acts, however, the recent wave of hits had indicated that still they existed.

“Terrorists are combated but their facilitators, who are found in the elite class at every level of government, must be traced and taken to task. In an in-camera briefing, legislators should be told who are those people and if they are not apprehended strongly, the menace will not be eliminated totally,” he noted. He lauded those who spoke against terrorists and their facilitators.

Under the Constitution, Senator Taj Haider said that private armed groups should not be allowed to operate in the country at any cost. The kind of statement, he charged, the minister gave in the House, created doubts about the government’s policy against terrorism.

MQM’s Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh said that the National Action Plan, agreed upon by all the political parties, should be implemented in letter and spirit and charged that the provinces could not fully implement it. He noted a BJP leader had brought a resolution in Indian legislature for reserving seats for Gilgit-Baltistian and asked if he should not also bring a resolution for seats in Pakistani Parliament for Junagarh, Hyderabad and Indian Held Kashmir.

Senator Abdul Qayyum of PML-N said that the terrorists were enemies of the country and they had no religion and stern action should be taken against them. He supported the idea of dealing with terrorists and sectarian militants differently.

PML-N’s Nehal Hashmi and Saleem Zia said that there was a need for seriousness on the part of the opposition and added that the previous governments had failed to take action against terrorists in a decisive way and credited the incumbent government for return of peace in Pakistan. They charged the previous government lacked the political will to deal with this challenge.

Chaudhry Tanvir Khan of the ruling party said that significant improvement in the law and order had been achieved after the implementation of the NAP and called for its acknowledgement.