ISLAMABAD: A committee investigating the publication of a ‘planted news story’ in an English-language daily late last year has finalised its report which it will present to the government ‘within a few days’, according to the interior minister.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Saturday that the committee – headed by Justice (retd) Aamer Raza Khan of the Lahore High Court – “is independent, and I have nothing to do with it”.
“The committee was formed by the government, while the interior ministry had only notified it,” he said while talking to journalists in Kalar Syedan.
The seven-member committee was formed in the first week of November to investigate the controversial story published in Dawn earlier in the month which had damaged the civil-military relations.
The committee was tasked with identifying the person/persons who had ‘planted the fake story’. Initially, the committee was to complete the task within a month, but later the timeframe was extended by a month.
Defending himself against recent criticism from the PPP, Nisar said PPP lawmakers had preferred to stage a walkout from the Senate instead of responding to his speech on the floor of the house.
“I said [in the speech] there is no space for terrorist organisations in the country while the groups proscribed on sectarian ground still exist in Pakistan.
“Is it justice to associate everything with [ASWJ chief] Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi? Can Allama Sajid Naqvi, God forbid, be linked with a terrorist group, or even Mousavi Sahib be linked with such an organisation? Absolutely not. They are patriotic Pakistanis,” Nisar said.
According to the security czar, there was nothing wrong with it when he said there were deadly sectarian conflicts. “There is a need to distinguish between terrorist organisations and groups proscribed for sectarian reasons.”
Asked about the future of military courts, he said the government was negotiating with political parties for introducing fast trial courts to bring terrorists to justice. “The situation would be clear within the next few days.”
He also confirmed the government was working to club the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Pakistan Protection Ordinance. “The final draft would emerge after consultation with political parties,” he added.
He said the interior ministry had prepared its reply regarding the Quetta commission’s report, which would be submitted with the Supreme Court on January 17 or 18.
The commission had faulted the interior ministry for the August 8, 2016 gun and suicide attack at Quetta’s Civil Hospital in which over 70 people, mostly lawyers, were killed.
He said no action was taken against bogus identity cards during previous regimes. The present government, however, realised the enormity of the issue and started a countrywide re-verification campaign, he added.
Around 450,000 fake CNICs had been blocked during the last three and a half years while over 32,400 passports had also been revoked during the period.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2017.