ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday said that talks with the Taliban were still the first priority as the government as they wanted to give peace a chance and efforts for the purpose would be restarted soon.
Addressing a press conference at the Punjab House here Nisar said that draft of a three-tier national security policy had been prepared and would be submitted to the National Security Committee of the Cabinet today (Monday) and then to the cabinet for approval.
Nisar said the draft had been prepared keeping in mind all aspects of national security. He said some parts of it would not be made public even after approval of all relevant authorities. This will be the first comprehensive policy prepared after input from all quarters concerned, he said. A need for this policy had been felt after the deteriorating law and order situation where it was unclear which institution will play what role, he added.
About policy towards Taliban, he further said there will be much progress in this regard if there was no drone attack. The minister said that first approach by the government would be keep dialogue open, as this was what had been agreed upon by the All Parties Conference. If talks fail, the state would pursue strategic action against terrorists and if that too fails then a full-blown operation would be launched.
He said the leaders sympathetic to the Taliban allege that the government was not serious in talks with Taliban, however, some others allege that talks were sabotaged by the drone attacks. Another section of political parties thinks that a military operation should be launched against the Taliban without delay. This school of thought believes that there should be no compromise on country’s sovereignty, he added.
About the controversy regarding the termination of the services of Nadra Chairman Tariq Malik, the interior minister said that the matter has nothing to do with verification of votes through thumb impressions. He said he would not comment on the matter until court issues its verdict. Nisar refuted the impression that the termination letter had been issued late in the night. In fact, he said, the letter had been issued much earlier.
The minister said the moment the Islamabad High Court suspended the termination letter, the government reopened Nadra office’s doors for Mr Malik. This attitude, he said, was totally different from that of the PPP-led coalition. He recalled that when court issued any order about any official, the previous government used to transfer him to some far-off place to keep him or her out of the jurisdiction of courts.
He accused Mr Tariq Malik of politicising his department and said that he had made over 100 foreign visits, most of them without taking any approval from the competent authority, during the last five years. To a query, the minister said a Nadra chief could withdraw only around Rs300,000 salary as per Nadra Ordinance. Tariq Malik was getting Rs0.8 million to Rs2.1 million salary under the contract, he said and added that no one would be allowed to plunder the public money.
Nisar said that magnetic ink was not used in the polling, adding that the FIA would take action if the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) pointed out irregularities. He said that he was ready to get a case registered over irregularities in Karachi during election if the electoral body intended to guide him on the matter. “I am assigning verification of thumb impressions to the ECP for the next three months,” he added.
He said that Nadra, ECP and Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) had signed an agreement under which the latter was bound to supply magnetic ink. Now it would be investigated whether the ink was supplied to the ECP during the elections, he said. The minister said he would also ask the Minister for Science and Technology to place the PCSIR under the administrative control of ECP for three months to probe supply of magnetic ink.
To a question, he said that he had never claimed credit for Karachi situation. He said that Interior Ministry has cancelled 2,000 blue passports, which were being massively misused for human smuggling. According to him, holders of blue passports did not need visas for travel to various countries. But the previous government issued these passports even to those people who were not entitled to have them. He defended his decision, saying now no unauthorised person would carry such passport.
In response to a question, the minister said he has withdrawn police personnel and FC from personal duty of some people, including political leaders. To another question, he said all the governors during general elections were appointed by then President Asif Ali Zardari and high-ups only in Punjab were completely reshuffled.