The top security czar came out all guns blazing against his critics on Thursday, accusing the government’s opponents of sowing panic and chaos in Pakistan.
“We are in a state of war, which we are winning militarily but losing psychologically because some people have decided to create chaos by political point-scoring,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said in what seemed to be his rebuttal to the recent statements of opposition leaders and critics.
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The minister’s outburst came at the headquarters of National Database and Registration Authority, where the inauguration of a new fee-paying service was overshadowed by the questions of inquisitive reporters.
The government as well as the military have come under intense criticism over their “failure to tackle terrorism” following the January 20 attack on the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda which left at least 20 students and staffers dead.
Apparently hitting out at the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership, Nisar said those criticising the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism and trying to create fear among the masses were working for terrorists.
“Needless statements from some people are dividing the nation instead of uniting people in such testing times,” he alleged. “We need to be united but the situation is the other way round.”
The minister claimed the PPP leadership was unnecessarily criticising NAP because of the corruption cases registered against former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain, a close aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari.
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“If anyone has anything to say about Dr Asim’s case, they should contact me instead of spreading rumours regarding NAP,” he added.
Nisar, known for his no holds barred approach to his critics, said the terrorists were on the run since the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and were targeting soft targets like schools and educational institutions.
The facts are clear on how terrorism has been curbed compared to the previous years, he said. In 2014, civilian deaths in terror attacks were around 2,500 which came down to 400 in 2015.
“People criticising NAP are the ones who kept sleeping during their tenure and did nothing to root out terrorism from the country. Those who did not even read the NAP documents are giving their analysis on it,” the minister added.
He also clarified he was not ordered by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit Sindh when the issue of extending Rangers’ policing powers erupted.
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Referring to recent statements from Sindh ministers of Nisar avoiding visiting Sindh, he said not only they lied about his visit but also distorted some details. “I decided not to visit the province because I was made a laughing stock,” he added.
Opposing the closure of schools over security concerns, Nisar urged the provincial governments not to close institutions over the fear of attacks as it would mean bowing down to terrorism.
“If we shut down our educational institutions, hospitals, streets and hide in our houses, this is what the terrorists want and we should not let them do this,” he said. “We should give a message of strength and unity and fight against the atmosphere of fear and terror.”
Referring to the use of Afghan SIMs in the Charsadda attack, the minister said although Afghan telecom services could not work on roaming in Pakistan, some areas near the border with Afghanistan catch signals from across the border.
Confusion about Maulana Aziz
In response to another question, Nisar said he would bring to light all facts regarding Red Mosque cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz.
The minister has come under severe criticism for misleading the Senate on the controversial issue, claiming there were no criminal cases against the outspoken cleric.
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“In my absence, there were several incorrect statements about Aziz in the Senate but I would reply on the same floor with all the facts and history of that case,” he said.
He added he would ask the Senate chairman to allow the broadcast of his criticism live on TV. “The government policy is very clear: there are no good or bad militants.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2016.
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