Senate seeks explanation from Interior Minister

| Sh Rashid says six facilitators of Islamabad attack traced through cell phones 

Chair fixes adjournment motion for Monday 
for House debate on terror incidents

ISLAMABAD   –  The treasury and the opposition on Friday expressing their serious concerns in the Senate over fresh spike in terrorist incidents in the country with the recent one in Lahore sought an explanation from Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed over the re-emergence of terrorism in major cities.

The lawmakers, mostly from the opposition, demanded that the interior minister should brief the house about the government’s strategy to thwart such terrorism incidents. This recent rise in terrorism is being seen at a time when the government’s talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to force the group to end militancy have failed and the group has announced to end the ceasefire. 

An opposition lawmaker also sought from the PTI government whether this “policy of appeasement” of TTP was not proving wrong when innocent citizens and personnel of security forces were losing their lives in terror incidents. After the lawmakers spoke on the issue during question hour session and requested the chair to suspend day’s agenda to discuss law and order situation, Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani fixed an adjournment motion for next Monday (January 24) for a debate in the house on recent increase in terrorism incidents. He asked the interior minister to conclude the debate on the day and give answers to queries of the lawmakers. 

Former chairman Senate Raza Rabbani was the first one who on a point of public importance demanded that the interior minister should brief the house on the recent spike in terrorist activities during the last some days.

“I want that the interior minister should brief whether this rise in terror incidents shows that the government’s policy of talks and appeasement of TTP was wrong?” he said. “Today, the country is in the grip of terrorism,” he said and referred to the two recent terrorism incidents, a gun attack on police checkpoint in Islamabad and a blast in Lahore’s Anarkali market. He said that there were conflicting claims about the Lahore blast as Baloch Nationalist Army, a terrorist group, has claimed the responsibility of it while the interior minister has said that TTP was behind this act.” He requested the chair to summon the interior minister for a complete briefing on the law and order situation.

Former prime minister and Leader of the Opposition in the House Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani endorsed his party colleague and said that they had concerns that such terrorist activities were increasing in the country. “I agree with Senator Rabbani that interior minister should be asked to brief the house as we are unable to understand his statements through media.” 

Parliamentary Leader of PML-N in the House Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar said that the interior minister had a key role to sensitize the Parliament about law and order situation of the country. “I support the demand that interior minister should be summoned to brief the house as to what was the reaction and future course of action of government if terrorists have again forced their entry into our cities?” 

Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati endorsed the view of opposition lawmakers and said that PTI government was accountable to the Parliament and explain the house that what was background of recent sharp increase in terrorism and what was the role of security agencies to thwart this fresh move? “The masses and the house should be taken into confidence.”

Former Home Minister of Balochistan and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) Senator Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti showed his surprise on how interior minister held TTP responsible for the Lahore incident when the Baloch Nationalist Army, a group that recently was established after merger of Balochistan Republican Army and United Baloch Army, has itself claimed responsibility of the incident. He said that this should be debated in the house that why our intellectuals, media and legislature used to call those Baloch nationalists as “estranged Baloch” who resort to violence and argued that they are also committing terrorism.

On opposition’s demand, the interior minister made a brief appearance in the house and said that there were special motives behind a gun attack on police in Islamabad as similar five attacks on capital police were held last year. He said that six facilitators were traced through the cell phones of two terrorists that were killed in the gun attack, but avoided to provide further details. “I don’t want to provide the details where the terrorists stayed and had their meal before the attack,” he said. 

Sheikh Rashid said that an investigation into terror incidents of Islamabad and Anarkali market were underway. He said that no one would be allowed to spoil the country’s peaceful environment. 

The minister also informed the house that Pakistan has completed fencing work of 2,680 kilometers along Afghanistan border and remaining fencing of 20 kilometers was being completed at any cost. He said that 200 kilometers remained to be fenced along the Pak-Iran border and efforts were also being made to complete it.

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