ISLAMABAD - In the wake of the twin suicide bombings on a church in Peshawar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Tuesday indicated the federal government might review its policy regarding talks with the Taliban and other militant groups.
Addressing a joint press conference along with his British counterpart Theresa May here at the Punjab House, the interior minister said they would review the situation at the government level once the prime minister returned from abroad later this week.
The minister said the Peshawar church attacks and killing of army officials were condemnable, but the decision to hold talks with the militant groups was made with consensus at the All Parties Conference (APC) and it was according to the prevailing circumstances. “A single event could not change the policy; we are in touch with different political parties and change in policy would be done at a right time,” the minister said.
Thanking his British counterpart for UK’s cooperation with Pakistan in different fields, the interior minister said Britain was a close ally of Pakistan that respected its sovereignty and played a significant role in its socio-economic development. He reiterated the serious commitment of the federal government to work with all countries to control terrorism, narcotics and other serious crimes. He said Pakistan wanted to further enhance cooperation with the UK in different fields, including security.
Nisar said Pakistan was facing serious crises, but would see a transition with the withdrawal of Nato troops from Afghanistan.
British Home Secretary Theresa May condemned the Peshawar church attacks and acknowledged the sacrifices of Pakistan in the war on terror. She stressed that her country would continue to work jointly with Pakistan to counter the menace of terrorism and added that it could adopt any suitable strategy to counter terrorism. The secretary said her country would continue to extend cooperation to Pakistan for its socio-economic development.
Later, replying to questions by journalists, the interior minister said it would be premature to name the elements behind the Peshawar Church attacks.
The British home secretary, while answering a question about decisions of the APC, said it was the internal decision of the Pakistani government to hold peace talks as Pakistan was the worst terror-affected country; it could adopt any strategy to counter terrorism.
To another question about the murder case of MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq, she said the probe was in progress and the UK government had no connection with the investigation process. About the official stance of the UK government on drone attacks, she said it was a matter between Pakistan and the US.
Earlier, the interior minister and the British home secretary held detailed talks in the presence of high-level officers from both sides on the issues of terrorism, security, immigration, narcotics and organised crimes.
In a joint statement issued on the occasion, both the countries reiterated their resolve to jointly work to tackle the threats being faced by both the countries, continue the existing cooperation on counterterrorism, illegal migration and organised crimes.
Home Secretary Theresa May recognised the important steps already taken by the new government, particularly in the shape of a National Security Strategy and new structures to coordinate military and civilian efforts. The UK offered support and expertise to help Pakistan.
Both the countries recognised the importance of rule of law and working in compliance with international human rights, terming it a key pillar of the strategy to address terrorism. The importance of the joint Pakistan-UK CAPRI programme which aims to increase the rate of successful terror prosecution was restated. Both the countries resolved to further develop and expand the CAPRI programme through joint international coordination.
The two countries agreed to share expertise and details of projects in this area with a view to working jointly on violent extremism.
The UK home secretary revealed how the UK government uses emergency coordination structure in response to crises and how civilian agencies coordinate on a daily basis. The UK agreed to share expertise to manage security on a day-to-day basis to keep citizens safe.
The UK agreed to continue support on the scourge of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The UK will continue to share expertise to safeguard sport events and aviation security.
The interior minister and home secretary agreed on the importance of tackling illegal migration which poses a threat to the UK and leads to the exploitation of vulnerable Pakistanis by visa agents. Both the ministers agreed that the governments of Pakistan and the UK would work together to tackle this threat and ensure dignified return of the migrants.
The home secretary supported the interior minister’s initiative to set up a new Immigration Vigilance Unit within the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). They agreed that there should be fast-track information sharing between the UK’s new National Crime Agency, the home office and FIA to prosecute the facilitators of migration crime for the mutual benefit of both the countries. The UK government agreed to assist the FIA in increasing its capacity to curb illegal migration and gather intelligence to be used in prosecution of visa agents.
Both the ministers agreed to continue the sustainable return of migration offenders. Both agreed to explore potential for developing an agreement that will allow the deportation of individuals suspected of terrorism.
The UK home secretary explained that the UK would be publishing a new serious and organised crime strategy in October 2013. In addition, the UK’s new National Crime Agency (NCA) will become fully operational in October 2013, and will work with all key law-enforcement partners, including ANF, F1A and FBR, to combat the threat from serious, organised and complex crime.
Both agreed that narcotics smuggling has no borders, requires international cooperation and information sharing on a reciprocal basis and a focus on those crime networks that cause harm to both the nations.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and UK Home Secretary Theresa May signed a joint memorandum of understanding (MoU), to counter narcotics, which reaffirms cooperation between Pakistan and the UK. This MoU recognises that illegal trafficking of drugs, precursor chemicals and resultant money laundering negatively affect security, health, economy and the general welfare of both the countries.
Nisar and Theresa May welcomed the continuation and strengthening of joint cooperation against all organised crime, including money laundering and organised immigration crime. Recognising that kidnap for ransom is a growing problem, May offered expertise and support through the UK law-enforcement agencies, coordinated by the National Crime Agency’s Anti-Kidnap and Extortion Unit, to curb the menace.