LONDON - Interior Minister Rehman Malik has reiterated demand for putting an end to the US unmanned air raids in the tribal belt.  “The US drone attacks in Waziristan should be stopped because these are against the regional sovereignty of Pakistan,” the interior minister said in an interview with CNN in London. He also said these strikes neutralise whatever gains Pakistan makes against terrorists in the war.

About the terrorist attack on 14-year-old peace princess Malala Yousufzai, the interior minister said: “Police are searching for two youths suspected of shooting a teenage activist for girls’ education and the man they believe drove them to the scene.” “The guys who actually made this assassination attempt, they were two young boys,” Malik said. But, he added, they were brought to Swat by Attaullah Khan, a 23-year-old man identified by police as their primary suspect.

Malik said one of the youths distracted the driver of the car that carried Malala, while the other asked a bystander to identify her. “Obviously they had done their homework. They had seen the vehicle of Malala going up and down, and accordingly they acted on that.”

He said Malala’s assailants were traced out within 24 hours after the attempt on her life, adding the two attackers were Afghan nationals and the assault plan was planned from across the border. “Within 24 hours we were in a position to identify almost everybody.” And he rejected calls from some in Pakistan to bring the country’s military to bear on the attackers,” the interior minister added.

“Malala is the honour of Pakistan and we are waiting for her return. The government will ensure Malala’s security on her homecoming with policewomen to be deployed for her protection,” he said, claiming that police had offered to protect Malala three times before the incident, but her father had refused.

Malik said she and her parents can stay in the UK as long as needed, until she is fully rehabilitated. He said she had asked for her school books so she can study for exams, which will be given to her when she returns.

He said her entire family would be under guard when they return to Pakistan after her treatment, for which the government will pay.

Malik visited Malala in her hospital in Birmingham, England, where she is recovering from her head wound.

Talking to the media in London, Malik said the government would get approval of dual nationality bill from the Senate next month.

 Interior Minister Rehman Malik said, adding that the government would ensure security to her family and special policewomen would guard her.

“The government wants to provide the right of vote and contest election to expatriates. For this purpose, the government will get approval of dual nationality bill from the Senate next month.”

The interior minister said that a comprehensive strategy has been chalked out to eliminate ghost cellular connection (illegal SIMs) because such connections had been becoming a ‘lethal weapon’.