ISLAMABAD  -  State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi on Monday said that complete security would be provided to pilgrims visiting Iran and other countries during Muharram through land routes of Balochistan.

Addressing a joint press conference along with Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal at Balochistan House after attending a meeting, he said that the federal government was making all necessary security arrangements for the pilgrims after the chief minister raised the issue. Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Qasim Suri and some senators belonging to Balochistan flanked the state minister. “I myself visited Taftan, the border city in Balochistan, to oversee the arrangements,” the state minster said in his first interaction with media after taking oath of his office. He added that a security meeting had been held in Quetta in this regard. He said meetings had been held with civil and military leadership to make foolproof security arrangements.

“We are working like a team in new Pakistan with ‘Pakistan first approach’ while remaining above party lines,” he said, adding that betterment of the country was their top priority. He said that the federal government respected autonomy of the provinces and would remove all hurdles in smooth working among the provinces. He said that reservations and deprivations of the youth of Balochistan would be addressed and removed simultaneously.

The state minister said that PTI-led federal government would resolve issues of Balochistan on priority basis. “If Balochistan will rise, Pakistan will rise”, he said. We will not sit in offices and will remain present in the middle of the public to give them confidence that the government belonged to them, he assured.

Responding a question about anti-encroachment operation in Islamabad, the state minister said that 31 plazas had been demolished only in a single area of Islamabad. “Who permitted these marquees to operate in this area”, he enquired while pointing towards the illegal marriage halls located in an E-series sector of the capital. He said that all issues were being analyzed, adding that the state land would be evacuated in the capital from land encroachers and the rule of law would prevail. I myself am supervising the situation, he said.

Deputy Speaker NA Qasim Suri said that federal and Balochistan governments were working together to make necessary security arrangements for pilgrims as they had been attacked many times in the past.

The CM Balochistan Jam Kamal said that Balochistan was facing multiple problems. He thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for constituting a high-level committee on security of pilgrims visiting Iran and tasking the state minister to visit Balochistan. He said that a large number of pilgrims used to visit Iran through land routes of Balochistan during Muharram every year and the situation needed attention. He said that a change could be seen at the federal level.

Responding a question, the CM said that 150,000 pilgrims visited Iran through Balochistan border last year and they were escorted by security personnel during their departure for Iran and return to country.