ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan struck his critics dumb yesterday when he told Senate that implementation of the anti-terror National Action Plan was the responsibility of the entire state functionaries and not the job of interior ministry alone.
Briefing Senate over the progress made on implementation of NAP since its inception, said it was a joint responsibility of the federal government, the military, the intelligence agencies, the provincial governments and as many as eight federal ministries.
“NAP is the agenda of Pakistan’s security and no one can do politics on the security of Pakistan. Out of the total 20 points, there has been a satisfactory progress on 15 points while progress on five pints is a bit slow,” he said, adding that his ministry was supposed to work on only three points.
Opposition senators bombarded the interior minister for detaching his ministry from the NAP with some pointing fingers at him for being soft on the banned outfits in country, before Nisar could inform the house about the work on NAP which was adopted after the callous attack on Army Public School Peshawar last year.
After patiently listening to the criticism, the minister made his critics speechless by informing the his ministry had achieved the three points of the plan saying the rest of ministries should also be held accountable for sharing their share of progress.
Accepting the delay in setting up National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta), Mr Nisar said that funds had been approved and the joint intelligence directorate (JID) – the major component of the authority – would be operational within a month or two.
But he sounded dissatisfied with the meager allocation of Rs1.6 billion budget for Nacta and called upon the senators from both opposition and treasury benches to raise their voice for more funds for the authority.
Responding to questions by Senator for leaving the controversial Red Mosque cleric ‘Maulana’ Abdul Aziz scot-free after he announced his allegiance to Islamic State (IS), the minister sought refuge in blaming the previous governments of backing the cleric despite a military operation.
“It was not me or my government who provided him official guards. It was not my government that appointed his nephew prayer leader of the mosque, but even then if anybody has any evidence against him, the government will definitely take action against him,” he maintained.
MQM’s Barrister Muahmmad Ali Khan Saif argued the federal government should lodge FIR against the cleric if there was nobody to register case against him, saying if his party chief Altaf Hussain can be implicated in dozens of cases for a speech then what was preventing the government from sending a ‘hate monger’ behind the bars.
To a question about action against illegal seminaries in the country, Nisar informed that over 28,000 students were studying in different seminaries in the federal capital alone, adding that some of the seminaries were properly registered while others were not, and it was not possible to launch a crackdown them all.
“There is not a single seminary which was set up during my party’s government. Why everybody was silent when seminaries got registered illegally in previous governments? If you want me to crackdown on 28,000 seminary students then (I tell you) it is simply impossible, but work on seminary reforms is being done,” he added.
He said it was his party’s government that codified the proscribed organisations. There were 62 proscribed organisations which he insisted were again declared banned outfits as the previous government failed to do anything in this regard.
He assured action will be taken against banned outfits but argued the provinces must cooperate and coordinate with the federal government in this regard. He brushed aside the claims that members of banned outfits have been elected in the local government polls in Punjab.
About verification of cellular SIMs, the minister said the blockage of thousands of unverified SIMs despite resistance from mobile companies was a major achievement of the present government.
He recalled that the cellular companies threatened to wind up operations in the country in case the government went ahead with blocking unverified SIMs. “But the interior ministry made it crystal clear to them the security of Pakistan is more important than the investment of some dollars.”
He said there existed no policy about registration of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) adding that there were only 28 registered INGOs when he took over as interior minister. “We made a new policy of registration and now they are bound to follow law of the land. No NGO can operate without getting registration.”
To a question about hate speech and sectarianism, he said that the parliament should do legislation so that strict action could be taken against those involved in sectarian issues.
Responding to criticism that there has been no let up in terror related cases, the minister drew the attention of the opposition lawmakers towards the major suicide attacks in different parts of the country before his party took over in 2013.