ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan yesterday widely triggered criticism on the social media for his other day’s meeting with the leaders of banned Ahle Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) and some other religious parties having pro-Taliban views.

The government’s priorities also came under question to implement National Action Plan (NAP) on Counter-Terrorism that was announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after the Army Public School (APS) attack in December16, 2014.

Nisar on Friday met with a delegation of Difa-e-Pakistan Council that was headed by Maulana Samiul Haq, the chief of his own faction of JUI-S (Jamiat Ulem-e-Islam-Sami) and known as father of the Taliban. It also included Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, the chief of banned ASWJ, and Maulana Younas Qasmi, another leader of proscribed ASWJ. Qari Muhammad Yousaf Sheikh, a leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), was also part of the delegation of DPC, an umbrella coalition of more than 40 right wing and religious parties of the country.

The purpose of the meeting was to allay concerns of DPC which is holding a rally in Islamabad on November 28 in protest against the ‘indifferent’ attitude of the government towards religious scholars, religious parties and seminaries. The DPC has remained critical in the past to the US policies towards Pakistan and as well as Pakistan’s free-trade policy with India.

Soon after the photographs of the meeting of Nisar with a delegation of the leaders of a banned outfit and those having pre-Taliban thoughts were released from both the sides, the social media was abuzz with criticism on the interior minister.

“PML-N leaders criticising Imran Khan of PTI for supporting Madrassa Haqqania should see this picture,” tweeted Marvi Sarmed, a known human rights activist, along with the photograph of Chaudhry Nisar standing with Maulana Samiul Haq, Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi and other leaders of DPC. She gave an overt reference to the criticism of PML-N leadership against PTI-led KP government for providing official funding to Madrassa Haqqania being run by Maulana Samiul Haq.

“The interior minister, self-proclaimed founder of NAP officially meets and entertains demands of banned ASWJ and HuM,” tweeted Jibran Nasir, a lawyer and civil society activist.

“Pakistan’s interior minister hosts banned ASWJ of Ahmed Ludhianvi who is on his ministry’s own terror watch list and Father of Taliban Samiul Haq,” a local journalist, Bilal Farooqi, tweeted.

“Imran Khan, inviting the jihadis to protest was a rumour, meeting of the federal interior minister with them is a reality, ultimate winners are these zealots,” tweeted on his Twitter account Muhammad Taqi who claims to be a former columnist of Daily Times. Taqi gave a reference to the remarks of Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif that PTI was inviting students of seminaries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to its Nov 2 Islamabad siege.

ASWJ is considered an offshoot of banned Sipah-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP) that was proscribed by then federal government in January 14, 2002. ASWJ was proscribed on February 15, 2012. JuD has been facing international sanctions since December 10, 2008 under the UN Security Council resolution.

The 20-point NAP says that militant outfits, proscribed organizations and armed gangs will not be allowed to operate in the country.

The interior minister, in his Friday’s meeting with the DPC, had decided to revoke earlier decision of the government to suspend citizenship of all those persons whose names are on the list of Fourth Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997.

The government had recently suspended citizenship of all persons on the Fourth Schedule by blocking computerised national identity cards (CNICs) besides freezing their bank accounts and restricting their international travelling. Ahmed Ludhianvi is one of the leaders of the religious parties whose names are in the Forth Schedule.

A statement of DPC, issued after the meeting, said the interior minister immediately ordered Nadra to unblock all CNICs of those in the Fourth Schedule and warned the authorities not to take such action in future. The minister said no one could be deprived of its Pakistani citizenship.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 23-Oct-2016 here.