The government has referred 40 “high profile” cases to military courts that would become functional in the province within a month, Home Minister Shuja Khanzada said on Friday.
“Of the 12,000 madrassas in the province, half are unregistered. We have started a campaign to register the seminaries,” he told a press conference.
He said more than 170 teams had been mobilised to register madrassas in collaboration with the Counter-Terrorism Department and the Punjab Information Technology Board. Nearly 2,000 madrassas have been registered over the last few days, he said.
Khanzada said the government was also carrying out biometric registration of Afghan citizens settled in the Punjab. The data would be included in the national database, he said.
The minister said the National Action Plan against terrorism would be implemented in three phases. He said the government had launched a crackdown on the unlawful use of loudspeakers and wall chalking promoting hatred. He said 106 cases had been registered over wall chalking and 70 arrests made in this regard. “Wall chalking is still seen at some places… we will get rid of the problem,” he said.
Khanzada said rules allowed only one loudspeaker at mosques that could only be used for aazan (the call for prayers), khutba (the Arabic sermon) ahead of Friday prayers and important announcements. During a recent crackdown, the minister said, the government had made 1,500 arrests for brandishing weapons and seized 1,400 weapons.
He said 143 terrorists and those harbouring terrorists had been arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Cases in this regard had been referred to anti-terrorism courts, he said. He said that of the 1,400 foreign students in the province, 498 had expired visas. He said the students illegally staying in the country would soon be deported. He said the matter would be taken up with the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Office. Khanzada said the government was conducting “intelligence-based operations” to control the law and order situation. He said the crime rate had witnessed a significant drop.
He said 14 people had been executed recently; six death row convicts had filed appeals against their sentence. Mercy petitions of four such convicts have been sent to the president, he said.
Khanzada said the Education and Information Departments would work together to bring about changes in curricula.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2015.