Pakistan will overhaul its existing security system by revising all major policies and agreements within the next few months, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Monday, adding that the move was ordered after several agreements collapsed at the hands of the previous government.
Policies pertaining to arm licences, retrofitting and importing bullet-proof vehicles, registration of private security companies, Exit Control List and international agreements for exchange of prisoners will all be revised within a couple of months, the minister told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior.
“We took this decision in national interest. Several files containing national secrets, international agreements, sensitive cases and expenditures went missing in the past years. It is the failure of our security system as well as of the civil bureaucracy,” he added.
The decision to review all these policies and agreements was taken when 2,000 Blue Passports were issued to ‘non-entitled persons’. Nisar pointed out that hundreds of security companies got NOCs without fulfilling the basic criteria. Many convicted prisoners, who were involved in dangerous crimes abroad and brought to Pakistan under agreements, were being released illegally, he informed the lawmakers. All this happened during the stint of the PPP-led coalition government.
Pakistan Rangers apprehended 2,577 suspects in thousands of raids across Sindh. Some 12 high-profile terrorists, 146 target killers, 27 kidnappers and 205 extortionists were arrested, he informed the committee. In these raids, the paramilitary force recovered 4,384 weapons and 175,388 pieces of ammunition. Six security personnel have been killed and 32 injured in the line of duty, he said.
Nisar pledged to address MQM’s reservations against the Karachi operation. “It was unanimously decided that the operation will be carried out against anyone regardless of political affiliation,” he added.
Bombing of Lahore churches
Deploring the suicide bombings at two churches in Lahore as an inhumane act, the minister said the perpetrators of these attacks were not followers of any religion. “No religion of the world allows such acts,” he added. he said those who took the law into their hands had furthered the agenda of terrorists who wanted to cause frustration in the society.
Pakistanis in Bagram
The minister informed the committee that the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) had coordinated release of 43 Pakistanis from Afghanistan’s Bagram prison. The fate of these prisoners would have been uncertain once the US authorities leave Bagram. The top counter terrorism body has also devised a strategy for ensuring security of foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals working on various projects in the country.
Nisar observed that terrorists were attacking soft targets, including mosques, churches and schools, in utter desperation. “Space has shrunk for terrorists,” he said. He said the noose has been tightened around terrorists. Nisar added that the overall security situation has improved to a large extent as a result of the government’s effective counterterrorism policy.
Interior ministry’s performance
Speaking about his ministry, he said that since June 2013, around 7 million passports had been issued which contributed Rs32 billion to the national exchequer. “I have been trying to get the records digitised for the last eight months,” he added. “I have asked the IT minister for information technology and NADRA to work in this regard.” The minister also told the committee that at least 62 corrupt officers of the Federal Investigation Agency have been terminated.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2015.