ISLAMABAD - Despite the government’ claims to engage TTP and other militant groups in peace talks, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday conceded that holding talks with them was as challenging as fighting them.

And for the first time, after the saga of landing of former president Pervez Musharraf in AFIC instead of appearing in the special court, the interior minister giving his official version said that former military ruler was in trouble on that day and was taken to hospital on the spur of the moment.

In his informal talk with a select group of journalists at the Punjab House here on Sunday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said though the incumbent leadership of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was refusing to hold peace talks with the government at the moment, the government’s top priority remains the course of dialogue. “Talks with some militant groups are at very crucial stage and some positive outcome is expected,” said Nisar, adding that the government was not sitting idle after the drone attack on former TTP head Hakimullah Mehsud that sabotaged the talks process.

He said that drone attacks were being used by foreign forces to sabotage the peace process, as they did not want peace in Pakistan. Moreover, “our enemy is invisible and de-centralised and it could not be attacked from the forefront”, he said, adding that it was difficult to hold dialogue with them as to fight with them.

The minister questioned if the problem of security has been solved in Fata through military operations. He however made it clear that the dialogue process would be extended keeping in view the respect and dignity of Pakistan. “We will hold dialogue only with those who will give positive response and show sincerity, seriousness as well as responsibility, while those who will come forward with bullets, will be responded with bullets,” he said.

Responding a question about as to whom the government was negotiating with when TTP was refusing to talk, he said there were many groups among the TTP and outside it, but he did not name any group. To a question about the role of JUI-S chief Samiul Haq in dialogue process, he said many religious and other personalities were part of the process but the federal government was the main and focal authority to hold dialogue.

Musharraf’ Admission to Hospital: The minister ruled out speculations that the Musharraf’s reaching the Allied Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) was a pre-planned move to avoid court hearing. He also denied rumours that Rangers had already been deployed on the route to AFIC in Rawalpindi.

“Musharraf had a problem on the spur of the moment,” the minister asserted saying that only two persons, Islamabad Security SP and Colonel (r) Ilyas, personal security officer of Pervez Musharraf, were present in his vehicle, besides the driver. He said that he, as interior minister, was aware of the whole situation as the SP was in contact with them.

SP had proposed to shift Musharraf to PIMS, Polyclinic Hospital or Al-Shifa Hospital, but he was asked from the other side that he should be shifted to AFIC. He said that no Rangers were already deployed on the rout and even AFIC administration was unaware that Musharraf was being taken there. “After Musharraf was admitted in AFIC, 111 Brigade took over the security of the hospital as Musharraf is facing threats,” he said.

The minister confirmed that interior ministry had received an application from Sehba Musharraf, the wife of Gen (r) Musharraf, to exclude his name from the ECL (exit control list) but it was rejected on the grounds that the matter was sub-judice.

Internal Matter of Nadra: Showing his concerns over the manner in which public money was spent by former Nadra authorities, the minister said that 8,000 employees were recruited in National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) during the last 5 years. He said performance audit of the authority would be held to assess and ensure that right person is on the right job. He said that during the last five years some things were added in the authority that was creating hurdles in its smooth working.

“For the first time since its inception, Nadra chairman would be appointed through open competitive advertisement,” he said, adding that its last two chairpersons were appointed in violation of rules and regulation. “We have formed a Nadra board whose first meeting is going to be held on January 15 that will appoint a caretaker chairman of Nadra,” he informed. He said that the general powers of the authority would be exercised through the board.

A direction had been passed that Nadra administration would fully cooperate with Auditor General of Pakistan to hold audit and a consultant was being hired or included into the board that would assist the authority on matters of audit, he said. I have made obligatory for every department of the ministry to have its audit, he said. The minister said that the independent committee of Nadra, already formed to work with ECP on the matter of thumb impression verification process, would remain the same and it would be not be in control of the interior ministry.

Unregistered Citizens: During a recent survey, it has been identified that at least 98,000 persons living in Islamabad were unregistered, he said. He further said that the registration of 51,000 citizens had been verified in the capital and the process was going on.