ISLAMABAD - The government has reached the considered decision that taking the Taliban peace talks any further would be ‘unfair’ and the security forces are undertaking strikes in Fata in ‘self-defence’, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Thursday said.
“Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif) after consulting the top brass of the military decided that it would be unfair to continue talks process” in face of continuing acts of terrorism by the Taliban. Talks would only be held when spilling of blood stopped, he declared.
Continuing the talks in the given situation would be “injustice to victims of terrorism”, Nisar said here at Punjab House while addressing a jam-packed press conference. State Minister for Interior Baleegur Rehman accompanied him.
Security forces are undertaking strikes in Fata in self-defence, a right the government cannot take away from the armed forces, he said. He clarified that no operation has been conducted in Fata since September last year and the current strikes are being undertaken by the security forces in self-defence.
The minister said the government initiated dialogue process with sincerity, as he asked the political parties opposing the move as to why they had failed to launch military operation against the militants during their term in the government. Appreciating the role of the committees formed by the government and outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) negotiations, he said both played a positive part.
Negating the previous days’ briefing of interior ministry about alarming security threat to the country, especially the capital, Nisar gave a different version of the story saying that Islamabad was safe now. Rejecting media reports citing the ministry as telling a national assembly committee that federal capital was an “extremely dangerous” city, Chaudhry Nisar said the threat level to Islamabad has slipped down as compared to previous years.
He, however, added: “Safe City Project would be launched in coming weeks in a bid to protect the Islamabad city.” The security forces would be equipped with modern weapons which are being imported from China, the minister said. He said that targeted operation was also in progress in Karachi and Quetta against the militants. The government of Pakistan is making all-out efforts to protect the whole country, he held.
Nisar reiterated that peace talks and terrorist acts cannot go hand in hand. He said the deadlock in talks with TTP persists, however, the government’s peace initiative will continue with the militant groups which believe in the dialogue process. He said first the government peace committee decided to stop dialogue process amid rising incidents of terrorism and then army chief was informed about the decision of the committee.
Chaudhry Nisar revealed that previously the government had decided to launch a military operation and the speech of PM was ready but despite pressure, it was decided after thorough consultations that the dialogue must be the first option. The minister admitted that a number of matters regarding the peace talks were not being made public as every matter could not be made public.
He clarified that no military operation had been launched since September last and even the normal movement of the troops had been stopped from the last five months to give the impression to the warring groups that no military operation was being launched. “What else could the government have done to show its sincerity of observing a ceasefire,” he questioned.
Chaudhry Nisar also made it clear that no one should have any doubt about the capability of the security agencies of Pakistan and no one could deprive the security agencies of their right to take action in self defence. He said all the decisions were being taken with consensus and the government was moving ahead with the consensus of political leadership and the security agencies on the issue.
The minister terming the statement of Imran Khan about the success of military operation in tribal areas as baseless said that then army chief had said that incidents of terrorism would decrease up to 40 percent throughout the country in case of action in the troubled area. “We even had been given timeframe to make free these areas from terrorism,” he said.
Interior minister said that National Security Policy would be presented in the next Cabinet meeting and after this operational framework of security would be put in place all over the country to counter terrorism. He said that a rapid repose force would be raised at the federal level and this would be replicated at provincial level. “Joint intelligence directorate is being suggested to coordinate 26 intelligence agencies and NACTA would play a major role in this connection,” he said.
He said that during the last five to six months the work done on intelligence sharing was more than ever done in the past. “We have nabbed thousands of target killers in Karachi,” he said. About a question regarding Dr Imran Farooq murder case, Chaudhry Nisar said that British government had sought legal assistance in the case some weeks ago and it would be replied after consulting with the government and seeing the legal aspects of the case.
The minister ruled out presence of al-Qaeda and TTP in the capital and said there could be some presence of sectarian organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in the capital territory. But he said no major sleeping cell of terrorists was present in the city. “I with full responsibility want to say that Islamabad is a safe city, and we want such situation all over the country,” he asserted. He said that officer of interior ministry who testified before the committee presented the data of the previous years and not recent months and this gave the wrong impression that threat perception in Islamabad had risen. He said no major terror incident, except one, took place in the capital during the last six or seven months.
The minister said that 84,000 people of 24 kachi abadis in the suburbs of the capital had been registered and this record was being computerised. “But this personal data would be kept confidential and only would be used to keep the citizens secure,” he assured. He said 82,000 inhabitants of Baharakahu, a suburb of Islamabad had also been registered and the process of registration of 150,000 residents of Tarnol was in the last phase. He made it clear that no foreign agency was operating in Islamabad Capital territory (ICT).
Describing the details of the government’s initiatives to make Islamabad a safe city, he said that Rapid Response Force of Islamabad Police had been formed and had been trained as well as equipped with modern weapons. “We have evolved technical system for coordination in the city and Safe City Project would be launched there within next few weeks and 1,500 camera would be installed under this project,” he said. He also informed that latest equipment for the law enforcement agencies had reached in Islamabad from China.