QUETTA: Terrorists are operating from prisons in Balochistan and they are also in contact with banned organisations in Punjab, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Wednesday, citing intelligence reports.
Following assurances from President Asif Ali Zardari earlier this week that Malik would personally head out to Balochistan to help the provincial government with the investigation into the targeted killings of the Hazara community, the interior minister, flanked by provincial Home Minister Zafarullah Zehri, was addressing a press conference at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat during his two-day visit to the province.
“Law enforcing agencies have carried out a massive crackdown on different jails and recovered cell phones and evidence that indicates their [terrorists’] involvement in sectarian attacks. The raids were conducted based on intelligence reports,” he said.
The terrorists were in contact with Punjab-based banned organisations. “The investigation process has been extended and all prison officials have been told to separate those behind major crimes from those involved in minor crimes,” Malik said, adding, “By doing so, we will easily be able to single out all elements responsible for sectarian attacks.”
The interior minister also visited the Chaman border and held meetings with the Hazara community and Sunni leaders.
Malik said he had three items on his agenda; illegal cross-border activities, targeted killings of the Hazara community and negotiations with angry Baloch nationalists.
The government intends to hold a peace conference in Quetta in November, he said.
Monitoring cross-border activities
The biometric computerised system to screen all travellers crossing or entering the Af-Pak border will be restored by next month.
The government will reactivate the system along the Chaman border by November 30, he said, adding, people will not be allowed to enter or exit the Af-Pak border without being screened first, Malik said.
Negotiations with angry Baloch nationalists
Commenting on negotiations with angry Baloch nationalists, he reiterated the government’s stance saying that those who had taken to the hills should first lay down their arms and then join the negotiations process. “Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani and Home Minister Zafarullah Zehri who were tasked to hold negotiations with Baloch nationalists have informed me that they’ve received some offers to expedite the process. I will have these offers approved by the prime minister,” he said.
Arms licence for journalists
The interior minister also announced providing arms licences to journalists, owing to the prevailing law and order situation in the country, particularly in Balochistan.
“Each member of the Quetta Press Club will be given a licence to carry arms,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2011.