MPs ask Malik to step down, he says no


ISLAMABAD – All political parties, including the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), demanded on Friday that Interior Minister Rehman Malik resign for not providing adequate security to slain Minorities Affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti.
Malik, however, refused to resign and accept responsibility, saying that no such precedence existed as hundreds of people were killed in a number of terrorist attacks in Punjab but no one had resigned. It was not only the opposition parties that critcised Malik for failing to control the deteriorating law and order in the country and asked him to resign following the assassinations of (the late Punjab governor) Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, but PPP members too came down hard on the interior minister and sought his resignation.
The lawmakers said that an elected member, not a senator, should be given the responsibility. Malik remained resolute, however, and made a long speech in his defence, saying that terrorists had turned against him to demand his resignation. “Who in the Punjab government has resigned after important buildings in the province, including the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) headquarters in Lahore and the GHQ (General Headquarters) in Rawalpindi were attacked and a number of people including a serving general were killed?” questioned Malik.
He said he would be ready to resign if it was proved at a high-level inquiry by a judicial commission or if a parliamentary body found him responsible for the security lapse. He lashed out at the Punjab government and made a startling on-the-record statement that some madrassas in south Punjab harboured extremists and terrorists. “South Punjab is the hub of their activities,” he said, adding that the government had been able to control extremism and terrorism to a large extent.
He tacitly held the slain minister responsible for not following security guidelines and also said that Bhatti was provided a used bulletproof vehicle but he had returned it and asked for a new one. The minister did not trust the Islamabad police and the Frontier Corps men that had been assigned to his security detail, Malik claimed. Malik warned that Sherry Rehman and Fauzia Wahab were also on the terrorists’ hit list. “I am the number one target of terrorists,” he said, adding that he was not deterred and would continue performing his duties.
He said he had instructed the investigation team to probe into the murder of the minister keeping all possibilities in view including personal enmity, religious extremism and political rivalry. Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid parliamentary leader Faisal Saleh Hayat asked the interior minister to step down and accept responsibility for the assassination of the minister in the capital city.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Fazlur Rehman said that unfortunately some elements, including the media, were trying to link the incident with the Namoos-e-Risalat (peace be upon him) movement, which should not be done. PML-Nawaz’s Birjees Tahir also asked the interior minister to resign, pointing out that the assassination of Salmaan Taseer and attempt on the life of Hamid Saeed Kazmi had also taken place in Islamabad.
The PML-Q’s Sardar Bahadar Khan Sahar said the constitution protected the rights of minorities but they were being openly abused.