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Nisar links peace to anti-terror consensus

By Mumtaz Alvi
December 31, 2015

Says he is responsible for NAP, which should not be politicised

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the Senate on Wednesday that peace will prevail if unity against terrorism sustains adding that he accepts the responsibility for the National Action Plan (NAP).

He, however, went on to explain that eight federal ministries, including the Ministry of Defence, GHQ and the provinces, were also responsible for making the NAP a success, urging the critics not to politicise it.

The minister claimed that there had been massive improvement in the security situation across Pakistan as compared to 2013 and previous years. He emphasised that national security was not like switching on or switching off a button. “The challenge is to combat terrorism root and branch, which has grown during the last 15-20 years,” he said. He called for seeing the half glass full instead of half glass empty.

He said the Joint Investigation Directorate (JID) would be operational within two and a half months. He said 6,500 intelligence-based operations were conducted, 100 million unverified Sims blocked while 182 suspected seminaries shut down.

Those studying in seminaries, he noted, were Taliban while those carrying guns and indulging in acts of terrorism were terrorists. However, he added there was an effort for making a headway on this count. About some media reports that over 500 people belonging to banned outfits had got elected in the local bodies polls, he said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had reported no such candidate.

The minister pointed out that for the first time, the Schedule 4 was codified and 62 banned outfits were notified. Hundreds of arrests were made for delivering hate speeches and misusing the loudspeaker and this had considerably improved the situation with regard to sectarian infighting.

Nisar noted that in Islamabad alone, there were manyregistered and non-registered seminaries catering to 28,000 students. In the past, seminaries were established even on green belts here but the present government has not allowed construction of any seminary without proper permission.

He said the NAP was an agenda of Pakistan’s peace and security, therefore, there should be no politics on it and the achievements made so far should be appreciated, as the war was not yet over and the nation must maintain unity to take the drive to its logical conclusion.

The minister was responding to over a hundred verbal questions put to him by as many as 22 senators, mostly belonging to the opposition benches. He responded to many questions while he promised to reply to others in writing.

Questions ranged from allegedly almost non-functional National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta), inaction against the local cleric Abdul Aziz, ‘question mark’ on 7,006 arrests made in Karachi, presence of Daesh and a minister’s statement wherein he said they would seek cooperation of Afghan Taliban for security of proposed TAPI gas pipeline, reemergence of banned outfits under new names and weak policy towards hate speech.

The minister maintained that the plan was a shared responsibility, as 10 out of 20 points related to the provinces, eight to different ministries and others with the military and the intelligence agencies.

Nisar said there was quite a satisfactory progress on 15 points and slow progress on the remaining five of the 20-point National Action Plan. He again said the plan was not the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior but he accepted the order of the prime minister. He added that the plan was neither the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior not it had been given to it.

About the revamping of criminal justice system, he said consensus could not be so far evolved but efforts were afoot on this count, while referring to the reemergence of banned outfits.

The minister claimed that due to the implementation of the plan, there had been a marked improvement in the security situation across Pakistan. About the international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), the minister claimed that initially, only 27 of these were found to be registered but the government took action against some leading INGOs and 127 INGOs had now formally applied for registration. He added the source of their funding and scope of their activities would be put before the nation.

Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan said the speech by the minister had not added to their knowledge with regards to the plan. Earlier, those who asked questions included PML-N’s Abdul Qayyum, who quoted some foreign media which had said that militancy had been controlled by upto 70 percent in Pakistan due to the government policies and that French president had asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif about how could Pakistan help his country to control the menace of terrorism.

Other questioners included Saeed Ghani of PPP, Saleh Shah, Hafiz Hamdullah of treasury benches, Rubina Khalid, Rehman Malik of PPP, Sajid Mir of PML-N and Muhammad Ali Saif of MQM. The Senate was assured on Wednesday that work on the western alignment of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was being executed as per the decision of the All Parties’ Conference.

Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said there was a missing link of 650 kilometres on the western route and the government was committed to completing it by the end of the next year, dispelling the impression that the western route was being ignored.