Ulema not on target list of govt: Nisar

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday said Ulema are not on the target of the Pakistan government.

However, he said strict action would be taken against religious seminaries involved in training of extremist elements.

“The Zarb-e-Azb operation supported by the civil armed forces, provincial governments and people enjoy backing of all the political parties and the masses,” the minister said while winding up debate on a report on two and half years performance of his ministry in the National Assembly.

He said the war against terrorism being fought by the armed forces and people would be taken to logic end. He said the civilian authority was taking decisions with the guidance of the Parliament.

He said Zarb-e-Azb was started as an ultimate military strategy and the armed forces have achieved big successes during the operation. “Alongside military, the civil armed forces and police have also rendered sacrifices to fight against terrorism and for restoration of peace,” he said. Nisar said dialogue process was started with the Taliban by the civilian leadership under a strategy formulated in consultation with military and political leadership. He mentioned that Ulema also played very positive role during the process. He said Zarb-e-Azb was launched with consensus of military and civilian leadership after the terrorists continued sabotage acts across the country.

The minister recalled that he never gave any controversial statement after killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud in a drone attack. “I just stated that the United States had sabotaged the peace process,” he said. The minister observed that civilian role in fight against terror should not be ridiculed, adding that it was also due to pro-active intelligence that 12,000 intelligence-based operations were conducted and most of operations were carried by the police.

He told the House that after start of operation, for the first time he requisitioned 30,000 personnel of military as third line of defence against terror acts. “Presently, there are 10,000 personnel of Army as third line of defence,” he said.

He said that it should be kept in mind that war against terror was still not over, maintaining that the war would be taken to ultimate end. “There may be attacks from terrorists but it should not disappoint and discourage us,” he said. He said Rs48 billion would be allocated for FC and Rangers when they assume responsibilities in Fata after withdrawal of the armed forces from there. “We are fighting the war without any foreign assistance but will win it,” he said.

Responding to criticism on role of Madaris, the minister said as to why operation is conducted against Madaris when those were not involved in acts of terrorism. He said seminaries had played important role in fight against terror.

Responding to a point raised by a member during debate, the minister said ‘Counter Narrative’ had been prepared in which media and Ulema have to play an important role. The minister said the agreement has been reached between the government and Ulema on registration of Madaris and as a result, the registration of Madaris would become a reality.

He said Madaris have also agreed to teach modern education like mathematics, Pakistan studies and English. Chaudhry Nisar said that religion of Islam is Islam and neither it is liberal nor fundamentalist and there should be no confusion in it.

He mentioned that it is said as to why operation is not being conducted in Islamabad. “You must have noticed consequences of Lal Masjid operation in which personnel of armed forces and innocent female students lost their lives.”

Here he pointed out that over 25,000 students were studying in Madaris of the federal capital. He questioned as to what action was taken against him (Maulana Abdul Aziz) in the past for what he did. Without naming Maulana Abdul Aziz, the minister also raised a question for how long the court could keep him when there was no case against him. “Why he was brought to the same slot if operation was to be launched,” he said. However, he made it clear he (Maulana) will be taken to task if he indulges himself in any unlawful activity.

Nisar said under a policy, Pakistan refused to receive deportees from different countries without verification and verified documents including from Greece, Bulgaria and Austria. He said letters are being written to different countries including European countries to not see every Pakistani with doubtful eyes in the prevailing terrorism-related situation, arguing that Pakistanis are playing important role in development of different countries.

The minister said it is for the first time that 61 proscribed organisations have been put on record. He said a strategy was being implemented to identify financers of terrorists.

He said money changer Altaf Khanani’s case has been reviewed and the government would move the High Court in this regard.

He said 15 executive Nadra centres in big cities and 73 regional passport offices in addition to existing 95 offices are being set up at district level across the country. He told the House that terrorism related use of SIMs had been minimised following verification of 115 million SIMs while 90 million SIMs were blocked.

The minister said that arms licenses would be considered as cancelled if not verified by December 31. He regretted that in the past licences of prohibited bores were also issued without any verification. “A number of licenses of prohibited bore did not bear identity card numbers or father’s same. It is equal to playing with the country’s security,” he said.

Nisar said that efforts were made during the last two and a half years to formulate different policies including new ECL policy and 10,000 names have been struck off from the list. He said international NGOs are being brought under the law and their working is being made transparent. He said in the next two months, the process of registration of INGOs afresh will be completed. “Previously, only 17 NGOs were registered and presently there are127 registered NGOs,” he said.

Earlier, taking part in the discussion, Ayesha Syed of the Jamaat-e-Islami appreciated the minister for beginning a good tradition by presenting his ministry’s performance report in the House. She said there is a need of increased coordination among different intelligence agencies to fight terrorism and establish peace in the country.

Shaikh Rashid Ahmad of the Awami Muslim League said law and order in Karachi is a sensitive matter, stressing the need for resolving the issue of giving powers to Rangers amicably. He said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is best opportunity for development in the country.

Shah Jee Gul Afridi from Fata suggested formation of joint security force of Pakistan and Afghanistan for border management. He urged the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions to take steps for early rehabilitation of internally displaced persons.

Another Fata member Iftikharuddin said other ministries should also present their performance report before the House for discussion. He said mobile units for issuance of CNICs should be sent to Chitral to facilitate the people demanding that a Nadra centre should be opened in Garam Chashma and Mastung in addition to mobile units.

Talal Chaudhary of the PML-N said Pakistan is the first among developing countries where online system for issuance of passport and CNIC has been launched. He said rules and regulations were devised for placing the names on ECL which were previously used for blackmailing while steps have been taken to streamline the working of NGOs.

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