KARACHI - Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Monday the Punjabi Taliban are behind Sunday’s deadly bombing in Karachi’s Abbas Town that left 48 people dead.

The assault on the town in the country’s financial hub was carried out by the same terrorist group that had targeted members of the Hazara community in Quetta, Malik told a group of reporters, after visiting the injured of the blast at Aga Khan Hospital.

He however held out assurances that those behind the assault would be arrested within the next 48 hours.

The minister informed the media that at least 30 operatives of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had been apprehended in Karachi, adding that the outfit had its headquarters in the Punjab and that there had been no Shia-Sunni conflict in Karachi.

He alleged that the ruling party in the Punjab province had garnered support of the defunct terrorist cell for the upcoming elections. He said at least 34 FIRs had been lodged against LeJ leader Malik Ishaq, but despite this he was released by the Punjab government.

Malik was of the view that terrorism could be stemmed if the Punjab government took serious action against terrorists hiding in its dominion.

He questioned the Punjab government, "How many of them (LeJ operatives) did you arrest? How many of their offices were closed in Jhang and Multan? What happened to their seminaries in Rahim Yar Khan?”

The minister also called an explanation from the Sindh Police chief and home secretary about inadequate security checks in Abbas Town.

Intelligence about a possible terrorist attack in Karachi in Shia-dominated areas, similar to the one in Quetta, had been provided beforehand, he said as he questioned the Sindh Police chief and home secretary as to why security was not kept adequate. He also observed that "security was only kept strict for four days".

Malik said terrorist groups wanted to delay the upcoming elections, but their unholy plot would not materialise since their backbone had been broken. "They – Taliban – are at the point that they are seeking reconciliation and dialogue," he went on to say.

Later, Malik co-chaired a law and order meeting with Qaim Ali Shah at the Sindh Chief Minister’s Secretariat that took stock of the post blast situation.

In the evening, Malik met with Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad and exchanged views with him about the security situation and different steps, including a ban on pillion riding.

Sources said the minister exhorted the Muattahida Qaumi Movement to play a pivotal role in maintaining order in the city.

Earlier this year, the PML-N while branding Rehman Malik as the most failed interior minister in the history of the country, asked him to take custody of LeJ leader Malik Ishaq. Provincial government’s spokesman Pervaiz Rasheed said Malik Ishaq was in police custody and if Rehman Malik considered that the captive was involved in Karachi and Quetta killings, why did he avoid taking Ishaq into his own custody.