ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali yesterday said the government is trying to bring in a system for speedy trial of terrorists and reiterated his stance that sectarian organisations will have to be treated differently from terrorist outfits.

Speaking to the media at Kalar Syedan, he said that a number of political parties had reservations over the extension of military courts mandate, adding different options were being considered to set up a judicial system for fast track trial of terrorists.

He said that work was being done to make a new law combining POPA (Protection of Pakistan Act) and ATA (Anti Terrorism Act) but solution to the problem depends on the consultations with the political parties.

Defending his earlier remarks given in the Senate, Nisar said that banned sectarian organisations should be graded separately from other banned terrorist outfits.

Separate rules would have to be framed for those organisations which were proscribed in the past because of their sectarian character to clear a lot of confusion over the issue, the interior minister said.

The sectarian outfits, both Sunni and Shia, which were proscribed due to conflicts based on sectarian differences and they must not be clubbed with other terrorist groups which out rightly reject the state and its system and pursue the agenda of mass murders.

Defending his meeting with ‘Maulana’ Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi – chief of banned sectarian organisation Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) – he said he was not the only one to meet heads of Sunni and Shia sectarian organisations as the PPP leaders too have been meeting them.

Earlier this week, Nisar had said in the Senate that banned sectarian organisations could not be equated with the banned terrorist organisations and his remarks had invited widespread criticism from the opposition parties.

"I left no space or leverage for any militant or terrorist organisation in my speech (made in the Senate) but some people misinterpreted it without reading it," the minister said and admitted that he had talked about the difference between the two types of banned organisations.

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On one side are those terrorist outfits which have no space in Pakistan, their leaders are either eliminated in police encounters or they are in jail while on the other side are proscribed sectarian organisations," he said, adding there were no cases against such sectarian organisations and they have been existing in the country for decades.

This is unfair to link everything to ‘Maulana’ Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, he said while again giving a justification of his meeting with ASWJ chief.

Whether Allama Sajid Naqvi is a terrorist or Agha Hamid Ali Shah Moosvi can be connected with some banned organisation, the minister said while referring to the leaders of Shia organisations. He answered the question himself in the same breath, "Not at all as they are patriots but the organisations they are linked with were proscribed in the past."

The minister also defended his statement that Sunni-Shia conflict was 1,300 years old. "What is wrong with my statement," he asked. He further said that these conflicts and bloodsheds were a part of Islamic history.

Chaudhry Nisar lashed out at the PPP for its criticism on his remarks in the Upper House calling the opposition party’s reaction ‘mere allegations and unnecessary criticism’.

Nisar said that some media circles also toed the same line and used the language of PPP that was surprising and painful for him. He called it “professional dishonesty".

"What trouble PPP has with me, all know," he said while giving a veiled reference to the corruption cases against some PPP leaders.

The minister said that all photographs were on record in which PPP leadership had been meeting with the leadership of secretion organisations.

He said that his recent meeting with PPP Senator Dr Babar Awan was personal in nature.

To a question about the outcome of the inquiry committee headed by Justice (r) Amir Raza Khan formed to probe leaks of national security meetings, the minister said he was not answerable in this regard as the federal government (and not his ministry) had formed this committee.

He however said that he had showed his reservations for twice extending the deadline for the committee to probe the matter. "I have come to know that the report of the committee is ready and would be presented to the government in next few days," he added.

About the recent abduction of five social media and human rights activists, Nisar said that security and intelligence agencies were trying to recover the missing persons. He clarified that only one of the activists, Salman Haider, had been kidnapped from Islamabad.

"It requires sometime to uncover these incidents but all efforts are being made to recover them at earliest," he added. He said the policy of the government is clear in this regard, hoping the matter would be resolved amicably.

Responding to a question about Justice Qazi Faez Esa report on Quetta terrorist attacks, Nisar said his statement along with the stance of interior ministry would be submitted before the SC a day or two before January 19 - the date of hearing of the case. He said that performance of his ministry during last three and half years would be presented before the court.

He said that the orders of the transfer of inquiry officer in child-maid Tayyaba torture case had been reversed and the officer would remain in his position.

Explaining the re-verification campaign of CNICs, he said that his ministry had blocked 450,000 CNICs and that number remained just over 500 during the previous regimes during 2008-13. “Similarly, I have cancelled 32,400 passports” issued to aliens, he said.

He admitted that all blocked CNICs were not illegal and those legal would be unblocked soon as a parliamentary committee to oversee the process has been formed. "With this huge number of blocked cards, you can see how this problem is deep-rooted because it had vested interests. We will take the issue to its logical conclusion."

PPP Senator Saeed Ghani responding to Nisar’s press conference said that PPP stance proved correct that Chaudhry Nisar Khan was the biggest hurdle in implementation of the National Action Plan.

Senator Ghani said that truth has come in the open that interior minister has become a spokesman of terrorist outfits. “Chaudhry Nisar is annoyed with the PPP because the party opposes terrorists and it will continue to resist terror organisations.”

Ghani said federal and Punjab governments were not serious in implementing NAP and were avoiding action against terrorist outfits in Punjab. He said that Nisar was continuing as interior minister even after the outing of Quetta tragedy report that has raises several questions.