Little progress made in Quetta blast probe: NisarPakistan
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday conceded on the floor of the Senate that so far very little progress had been made in the investigations into last month’s suicide attack in a Quetta hospital, promising that whenever there was a positive development he would announce it in the parliament.
Winding up a debate on the recent terrorist attacks in Quetta, Peshawar and Mardan, the minister said three people were being investigated in connection with the Aug 8 attack on the premises of Quetta’s Civil Hospital. Intelligence agencies were still looking for facilitators of the deadly attack, he added.
“We are solving the jigsaw puzzle,” he said, asking the members to show patience and wait for the outcome of the investigations being carried out by the country’s “professional intelligence agencies”.
The minister said that on the basis of the data collated by the agencies, the authorities had an “idea” about the terrorists and organisations behind the Mardan and Quetta incidents, but they were still investigating as to what SOPs (standard operating procedures) were used by them. He said the biometric evidence available showed that those who carried out the attacks in Mardan and Peshawar’s Warsak area were foreigners.
Chaudhry Nisar expressed displeasure over criticism by some senators over the role of intelligence and security agencies. “The intelligence agencies are fighting the war for the country’s survival and they should be encouraged,” he said.
The minister claimed that the agencies had provided prior information about the attacks on the Wagah border crossing near Lahore, Army Public School in Peshawar and Bacha Khan University in Charsadda.
He said thousands of terrorists had been arrested as a result of some 20,000 intelligence-based operations.
Taking part in the debate, a number of senators, mostly from the treasury benches, had termed the last month’s terrorist attack in Quetta a result of “intelligence agencies’ failure” and called for a thorough investigation to fix responsibility.
The harshest criticism had come from members of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) led by Mehmood Khan Achakzai.
The interior minister reminded the PkMAP senators that their party was part of the federal government and the provincial government in Balochistan, asking them to express their reservations before the Balochistan governor who belonged to their party.
However, when the minister took his seat after his speech, PkMAP’s Usman Kakar lashed out at him and asked him not to treat them as “slaves”. He denied that his party was part of the federal government.
“We are neither part of the federal government nor are we your slaves,” Mr Kakar said while criticising the minister. He also passed some remarks about Chaudhry Nisar’s position in the ruling PML-N, but the same were expunged by the presiding officer, Ahmed Hassan, who was in the chair in the absence of both the chairman and the deputy chairman.
The interior minister in his speech also dispelled the impression in some circles that the military was implementing parts of the National Action Plan (NAP) it was supposed to enforce while the civilian side was lagging behind in putting in its efforts.
“There is no line between the civil and the military. And whosoever is trying to create that line is not a well-wisher of the country,” he said, claiming complete harmony between the civil and military leadership on the issue of war against terrorists.
Before Chaudhry Nisar, some PML-N senators also forcefully defended the army and the intelligence agencies for their role in the war against terrorists.
Perhaps taking a cue from the Tuesday night speech of Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, who also expressed displeasure over criticism of the security forces and intelligence agencies by some politicians, PML-N Senators Javed Abbasi, Nehal Hashmi and Abdul Qayyum asked the members to restrain themselves from criticising agencies, saying the personnel of law enforcement agencies were sacrificing their lives to provide security to the people.
Earlier, Senator Farhatullah Babar of the PPP questioned the policy “of skirting the real issues and shifting the focus” to the so-called nexus between corruption and militancy.
“While it is important to expose, and punish, the nexus between corruption and militancy, it is far more important, indeed crucial, to break the nexus between some militant outfits and the state agencies,” he said.
“The nexus between militants and the state is no longer a secret. It has been exposed repeatedly, most recently by the revelation that Mullah Akhtar Mansour not only lived in Pakistan under cover but also possessed Pakistan’s national identity card and passport,” he said.
“How can one deny the existence of this unholy nexus when banned militant outfits hold rallies in the federal capital and collect donations for dubious causes and the state agencies look the other way?” Mr Babar asked. “Let us call a spade, a spade and demand an end to this nexus.”
He said it appeared that “border management” was another name for continuing the policy of strategic depth and subjugating Afghanistan. He warned against serious repercussions of such policies.
Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2016