ISLAMABAD - Sounding terror alarm once again, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday called on all countrymen to be vigilant as militants could strike again and requested the media to boycott all hate mongers.

There are intelligence reports that terrorists are planning more attacks like Peshawar school massacre, he told a press conference here. He said Pakistan had been dealing with the threat of terrorism for many years now, but even greater unity was needed at this time.

“To fight terror, every Pakistani citizen has to play his or her part,” Nisar said. “We are in a state of war; new terror threat in Pakistan requires greater vigilance on part of each citizen… The militants look like us and they have sympathisers and supporters who are living among us,” he warned.

“Fighting terrorism for other countries was easier because the terrorists looked different then as they were foreigners”, but now it is an internal war, the interior minister said. He asked citizens to report any suspicious activity to the nearest police station.

Notorious umbrella terror outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had claimed Tuesday’s gruesome attack at an army-run school in Peshawar which killed 148 people, 132 of them children. “We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” TTP spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani had said after the attack.

Dismissing TTP’s reasoning for the sheer brutality, the minister said Pakistan Army does not target children and families of militants. While explaining army’s action, he said before a military offensive was launched against militants in North Waziristan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) in June, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and he had a mutual stance to ensure minimum collateral damage.

“If targeting civilians was our aim then we could have wiped out Miranshah, where militants and citizens lived side by side, with a couple of strikes. But we don’t target non-combatants,” the interior minister asserted. “We gave a few days for evacuation of families and children as it is principle of war of the Islamic country,” he said.

He said Pakistan Army was a responsible force and representing government of Pakistan and had never targeted children, women and non-combatant citizens, adding that even the family of Osama Bin Ladin was handed over to the country of origin in a dignified way.

He said that Joint Action Group against terrorism was working round the clock and it would finalise its recommendations by Tuesday. The interior minister said that all political parties had shun their differences and the committee would bring its recommendations before the nation within the seven days deadline.

Urging the nation to unite in taking an action against militants just as it has united in grief and condemnation of the Peshawar attack, the interior minister said, “The army has been fighting against militants for some time now but the nation needs to stand up and join the fight.” Nisar said that national mood would be translated into action for defeating terrorism.

Nisar requested the media to ‘black out’ militants and not give them media coverage. The minister also called on the media to play a responsible role, requesting that individuals who espouse hatred and bloodshed should not be given a platform to spread their message.

“I welcome the strong condemnation of the terrorists by Ulema,” he said, adding that, in this environment, seminaries must not become a hot bed of extremism. The minister however said that 90 per cent of madrassas had no connection to terrorism, basing his claim on ‘intelligence reports’.

He said the major source of intelligence were people and called upon the nation to remain alert and vigilant and keep close eye on their surroundings, suspicious people and activities. He requested hotel and house owners to remain vigilant and keep complete record of guests and tenants, otherwise they would be held responsible for any mishap.

Nisar also said that mobile phone SIMs play a key role in terrorist attacks that are carried out. “In the Peshawar attack, five SIMs were issued by a private company that helped to facilitate the attack. “We will see what action can be taken and whether an FIR can be lodged against the company,” he said.

“We will announce a phone number in a day or two for people to report suspicious activities. There should be an agenda in which every Pakistani has to play his part in providing information to intelligence agencies.” He said inspector generals of police (IGPs) of all provinces and federal government had been directed to alert SHOs to monitor the suspicious acitivities in their jurisdiction.

“We have also given direction to provinces and I personally talked to chief ministers to carry out operations in sensitive areas on daily basis,” he said. On provincial level, committees had been formed comprising the chief minister, corps commander, IGPs and security officers for operations.

The interior minister said that the fight against terrorism will be a long hard struggle. “We must not let our guard down; this will be a long and difficult struggle,” he said. “Don’t think of this as a game which will be over fairly shortly; Sri Lanka fought against terrorism for several years,” Nisar said. “When you are in a state of war, difficulties have to be endured, we must be prepared for any eventuality,” he added.