In Nisar’s eyes, Abdul Aziz is innocent until proven guilty

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  • Interior minister says govt will take action against radical cleric if he ‘breaks the law’
  • Denies Daesh’s physical presence in Pakistan, says local militant outfits using dreaded group’s name
  • Says Foreign Office will formally contact India to seek permission for visit of the Pakistani team to Pathankot

The country’s top security czar on Tuesday said action will be taken against Lal Masjid radical cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz if he “breaks the law”, as he again denied the presence of Daesh, or the self-styled Islamic State militant group, in Pakistan.

“If there is any evidence against Maulana Aziz, do bring them to us,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali said while addressing a news conference on Tuesday.

“I know about the civil society raising political slogans against the government,” he said, adding that the movement was built up against Maulana Aziz in the wake of Peshawar’s Army Public School attack in December 2014.

While pointing out the decision taken during his last tenure, Nisar said Maulana Aziz was restricted from delivering Friday sermons during his rule.

“People say things on their own. I have never said there was no case against Maulana Abdul Aziz. I have never said so,” the minister said. “Of the 23 cases against him, 12 are very serious.”

Nisar said he had suggested to constitute a commission on the matter to reach to the truth, but to no avail. ”I did not appoint him to the mosque rather I stopped him from speaking at the mosque.”

NO DAESH PRESENCE IN PAKISTAN:

Dispelling rumours about Daesh’s presence in Pakistan, Nisar reiterated that Daesh’s hierarchy did not exist in Pakistan and local militant organisations are working under the garb of the Middle Eastern-terror outfit.

“There are some 45 terrorist outfits pursuing their own agendas in Pakistan and these local terrorists have been launching terror attacks in Pakistan even before the formation of Daesh,” he said, adding that now some of these outfits for using Daesh’s name for publicity.

The interior minister urged media outlets in the country to stop giving coverage to the proscribed group as it would help them disseminate their terrorist ideology.

Some media outlets, he claimed, were projecting the image of Daesh in the country. “We will eliminate all those terror organisations who are using the name of Daesh or any other global terror outfit.”

Nisar remarks about the IS came after DG Intelligence Bureau Aftab Sultan said a week ago that the Islamic State’s presence is growing in Pakistan.

Addressing the Senate standing committee on interior and narcotics control, chaired by former interior minister Rehman Malik, Sultan said banned outfits – namely Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) – are reorganising themselves, with presence of Daesh more prominent than before.

The IB chief also said that all local militant groups including LeJ and SSP have a soft corner for Daesh.

GEN RAHEEL’S EXTENSION:

On the issue of extension in tenure of army chief General Raheel Sharif, Nisar said that the decision of the army chief not to seek extension in his tenure was a personal one.

“Giving extension to the army chief is the discretionary power of the prime minister and that governments make such decisions at the end of the tenure of the outgoing army chief,” he said, adding that any decision in this regard will be made purely on merit.

Responding a question of who will be the next army chief, he said it was premature to talk on this subject at this stage.

Regarding the pace of enquiry into the Pathankot incident investigation, he said that Pakistan will approach India to allow its special investigation team to visit Pathankot to gather relevant information regarding the attack.

He said that Foreign Office will formally contact India to seek permission for the visit of the team as answers to many questions and links can be identified there. The interior minister said the investigation team has held many meetings and its work is proceeding ahead.

Talking about Uzair Baloch, he said that interrogation is underway as he is under physical remand for 90 days and assured that whatever the outcome of the investigation, it would definitely come to light.

When his attention was drawn to the difficulties faced by the public at NADRA and passport offices, he assured that steps will be taken to address these problems. He assured that a proper investigation would be held into the incident of a woman’s death who lost her life at the NADRA office in Gujranwala on Tuesday.

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