Army Chief orders court martial for smuggling-involved officers, says Bugti

Nawaz Sharif is leader, not afraid of going to prison, Bugti takes U-turn

Interior minister says any security official found involved in smuggling will not only be court-martialed but also sent to jail n Solangi says govt will assist ECP in conducting free, transparent, impartial elections.

 ISLAMABAD  -  Caretaker Federal Interior Minis­ter Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti Monday revealed that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir has given very clear instructions to his men that if any of them is found involved in smuggling he will not only be court-martialed but also be sent to jail. 

The minister stated this while answering a question at a joint news conference with Caretak­er Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi on Monday afternoon. He also said that thousands of metric tons of wheat, sugar, urea, and petro­leum products had been recov­ered as a result of successful an­ti-smuggling and anti-hoarding drive by the government. 

While giving details, he said around 22,200 metric tons of wheat, 8,8000 metric tons sugar, 4,300 metric tons urea, and pe­troleum products worth 10,195 metric tons so far recovered during the last one month. 

Regarding the anti-narcot­ics drive, the Interior Minis­ter said 43 metric tons of drugs were seized with the registra­tion of 200 cases. Talking about the drive against the smuggling of dollars and illegal money ex­change, Sarfaraz Bugti said 168 First Information Reports were lodged against people involved in this illegal activity. Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti went on to say that security officials were involved in cross-border smuggling.

“It won’t be right if I say straightaway that security forces weren’t involved in it, as all this smuggling was being carried out via trucks, not camels,” Bugti said while speaking at a press confer­ence here. The minister was re­sponding to a question that there are widespread allegations about the involvement of security forc­es in cross-border smuggling.

The remarks of the caretaker minister came amidst the fed­eral government’s countrywide crackdown against smugglers

involved in the illegal trans­portation of goods includ­ing wheat, sugar and fertiliz­ers and dollars from Pakistan to Afghanistan and petroleum products from Iran to Paki­stan. Referring to a meeting, Bugti said that Army Chief had told his people in clear words that those found in­volved in smuggling would not only be court-martialed but also sent behind the bars. He said that he was part of the meeting. “But their (Ar­my’s) process of accountabil­ity is not made public and thus doesn’t come into our knowledge,” he said. He fur­ther said that accountability within Army has not only been witnessed in the instant case but also after May 9 riots. But there are weaknesses in the civilian set up and we need to address these, he added.

The caretaker minister said that the government has no soft corner for those involved in illegal practices irrespective of the fact how much influen­tial anyone was. He said that the Balochistan chief secretary was conducting an inquiry into alleged involvement of govern­ment officers and politicians in smuggling and any concrete finding would be made public.

Talking about the rise in ter­rorist incidents, the minister surprised many by saying that “the right to and monopoly of violence” should only rest with the state. He added that no one would be allowed to exer­cise this right, be it a violence of any kind. “We have resourc­es against violence. Our securi­ty forces have a capability and capacity for it” he said.

The minister went on to say that the policy of appeasement has damaged the state. He said that Indian intelligence agen­cy – RAW – was involved in all major terrorist incidents in Balochistan but there was no final conclusion in the Mas­tung attack and its investiga­tion was underway.

Responding a question, the minister said that this was en­couraging if Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supre­mo Nawaz Sharif wanted to take part in politics after end­ing his years-long exile. “Nawaz Sharif is that kind of a leader who had returned to country along with his daughter only to face jail,” he said while re­ferring to the incidents of pre-2018 election. He said that the case of Nawaz would be dealt with under the law. The interi­or minister, in the same press­er, said that if Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supre­mo Nawaz Sharif plans to re­turn to the country and partake in politics, it would be “encour­aging”.

“I am still saying, despite what PML-N leaders have said about me, that Nawaz Sharif is the leader who came back to the country with his daugh­ter; if he was afraid of go­ing to jail, he would not have come back.” Last week, PML-N senior leaders lashed out at the interior minister over his statement that Nawaz Shar­if would be arrested from the airport if he was not granted bail from court.

‘No place for terrorists and their facilitators in Pakistan’

Caretaker Federal Minister for Information and Broadcast­ing Murtaza Solangi said on Monday that it was responsi­bility of the government to en­sure peace in the country and assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in conducting free, transparent and impartial elections. This, he said, during a meeting with Caretaker Min­ister for Interior Sarfaraz Bugti who called on him here. On his arrival at the Ministry of Infor­mation and Broadcasting, Mur­taza Solangi welcomed Interi­or Minister Sarfaraz Bugti. The two ministers discussed mat­ters of mutual interest includ­ing law and order situation in the country.

In the meeting, both Murta­za Solangi and Sarfaraz Bug­ti expressed their profound re­gret over the loss of precious lives in the recent bomb blasts in the country. Both the federal ministers reiterated that there was no place in Pakistan for ter­rorists and their facilitators. In the meeting, the support of the caretaker government to the Election Commission regard­ing the elections was also dis­cussed. The ministers said that the caretaker government will provide all possible assistance to the ECP in fulfilling it’s the constitutional responsibility of conducting general elections in the country.

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