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Nisar responds to critics: ‘I told PM Nawaz I can resign but he declined’

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar responded to growing criticism against him on Saturday, saying the report on the inquiry into the attack on lawyers in Quetta is “one-sided”.

“I went to the prime minister yesterday, told him if my expression embarrasses the government then I would resign to set the record straight. He said that is unacceptable to him, which is why I am standing here in front of you today to tell you the other side of the story,” Nisar said at a press conference in Islamabad.

Nisar’s remarks come days after an inquiry report into an Aug 8 attack on lawyers in Quetta slammed government inaction against militants.

“I read this report in the papers, spiced up, thanks to the media,” he said. “I am not a lawyer but I fail to understand how a report was created without the interior ministry’s narrative in it, it is one-sided.”

“It hurt me to see the papers the next day. They accused me of lying to the public,” he added.

“I am a flawed man but I try and do the right thing, I do not lie to you (media). The security of this country is extremely sensitive. A personal blow to me is one thing but a blow to the national security is another matter.”

“People were against my speaking about the report but I was adamant to clear the matter and bring you the other side of the story.”

At least 70 people were killed and over 100 others wounded in a suicide bombing on Aug 8 at the emergency ward of Quetta’s Civil Hospital, where scores of people had gathered to mourn the death of Balochistan Bar Association (BBA) president Bilal Anwar Kasi in a gun attack earlier in the day.

A report of a judicial commission, comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court, on the massacre criticised the interior minister for meeting with the heads of some banned groups to listen to their demands.

Nisar added today that he has been “bashed” about his political and personal conduct and that he will tackle that criticism in the coming days.

He went on to list the gains made in counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan, adding that after more than 2,000 intelligence-based operations “people who who have not even read the National Action Plan are the ones who have been saying it has not been implemented”.

He also referred to a letter left outside the Punjab House for him, which included five questions. “I thought [the letter] was fake, because I do not live here at Punjab House. Upon investigation, I found out the judge’s secretary had left that letter for me here.”

“The first question was why did you meet ASWJ. I replied saying I have never met them. They asked why were they given the permission to hold a public meeting. I said I did not give any such permission.”

Nisar further clarified that he had met leaders of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council at a meeting, of which the banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) was also a part.

“We met to deliberate whether the CNICs (Computerised National Identity Card) of members of the banned outfits should be revoked,” Nisar said, adding Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) had invited Maulana Ludhianvi, the ASWJ chief, therefore all questions regarding the banned outfit should be directed towards JI and not the interior ministry.

“I answered the questions and it is all on record. However, the questions posed to me never mentioned the Quetta attack,” the interior minister said. “So when did I lie in my answers?”

“I understand those in the Supreme Court deserves honour. But those who go their to defend themselves are also worthy of respect,” Nisar added.

“I will ask the judge if this commission was about the Quetta incident or something else?” the minister added, saying he will go on every platform and present his side of the story.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb has said it is “unfair” to dub the interior ministry a failure on the whole based only on the Quetta hospital attack of August 8.

Aurangzeb made this remark in response to calls for Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to resign.

“It is impossible that in such a short period a government creates a policy, implements it and then also sees the results of it… and we are [already] seeing the results. But to negate the performance of a whole department based on one incident is unfair to the institution.”

Aurangzeb said the areas needing improvement will be fixed “with time”, adding that the ministry is aware that there are gaps in the system.

“The institution [interior ministry] has worked day and night to bring the PM’s vision to life, it kept all provincial governments on board.”

Saying the interior minister will personally look into the report and come up with a response, Aurangzeb said: “Reports such as this one are an opportunity to learn… they add value to the matters.”

A day earlier, the Pakistan Peoples Party submitted adjournment motions in the Senate and the National Assembly demanding the immediate resignation of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar.

“The people of Pakistan have been subjected to sustained terrorist attacks, which continue unabated, and deserve answers. Those who have failed the people of Pakistan need to be held accountable. Things can not go as they have been. Without top-tier accountability, it is unlikely systematic change will be possible,” read the motion filed in the National Assembly.

“This reaffirms our view that Minister of Interior is incapable or unable to play his role in combating terrorism and therefore, demand that he resign immediately,” added the adjournment motion.

The motion further added that an urgent debate is needed on the state of national security in light of the report by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

• The National Action Plan should be made into a proper plan, with clear goals, a comprehensive monitoring mechanism, and periodic reviewing.

• Nacta (National Counter Terrorism Authority) must be activated. It must do what the Nacta Act mandates.

• The public space needs to be reclaimed to counteract the virulent propaganda of the terrorists. The laws and Constitution need to be reestablished and the state must re-exert itself.

• The Anti-Terrorism Act needs to be enforced, and terrorists/terrorist organisations must be proscribed without delay.

• The federal and Balochistan governments must develop and maintain a databank with information or perpetrators/suspects of heinous crimes and terrorists organisations.

• Forensic laboratories should be not under the jurisdiction of the police, but of scientists. The results/tests should be uploaded in a central databank and easily accessed from any province.

• All crime scenes should be professionally secured, forensically examined and extensively photographed as soon as possible.

• Protocols or standard operating procedures should be developed with the help of experts.

• The shortcomings of the hospital, government of Balochistan and police need to be addressed and removed.

• All educational institutions, including madaris, need to be registered.

• Entry into and departure from Pakistan needs to be properly monitored; all persons must have the requisite documentation.

• The customs authorities should ensure that contraband is not brought into the country.

• If the media broadcasts and propagates the views of terrorists, then those doing so must be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

• The amount of compensation for the legal heirs of the decea­sed and for the injured should be expeditiously distributed.

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