–Security threat to Imran Khan, Asfandyar Wali Khan among others
–Senator Rehman Malik moves resolution appreciating ECP’s commitment
ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Interior, in its meeting on Monday, was told by National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) that the body has forwarded 12 threat alerts to the federal and provincial interior ministries and other law enforcement agencies which include six alerts about the heads of political parties by name and other alerts about senior leadership.
These six people include Imran Khan, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Aftab Sherpao, Akram Khan Durrani, Ameer Haider Hoti, Talha Saeed, and other threats are about senior leadership of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Committee Chairman Senator Rehman Malik, while expressing grave concerns over the threats, directed the Ministry of Interior to provide full proof security to the party heads and those for whom threat alerts were issued.
The NACTA chief told the committee that despite security and intelligence-based operations against the terrorists there are still intelligence reports about terrorists planning to execute their nefarious designs during the election campaigns.
“As head of the NACTA, an organisation established to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts, I would say we have received some very serious reports. Hitherto NACTA has issued 12 threat alerts based upon source reports concerning the election campaigns, some quite general and others particulars,” NACTA National Coordinator Dr Suleman said.
The NACTA National Coordinator had also briefed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on the possible threat alerts to politicians.
On the condition of anonymity, an official said that ECP wants to ensure that no politician under threat takes out any rally without providing information to the local, provincial and federal governments to ensure proper security arrangements for them and party workers.
The meeting of the Senate committee was held under the chairmanship of Senator Rehman Malik at the Parliament House on Monday and was attended by Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed, secretary interior, additional secretary interior, Islamabad Police DIG security, Islamabad deputy commissioner, South Karachi DIG, NADRA chairman, Immigration and Passport acting DG among others. Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman Senator Rehman Malik asked the interior ministry to ensure full proof security in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and to write to the provincial home departments as well as IGPs to take cognisance of these serious threats and take measures as required.
The committee took strong notice of the fact that Pakistan has been categorised in the FATF grey list and condemned the act by calling it a mischievous act of the Indian lobby. The committee chairman observed that Pakistan is the country that has given most sacrifices in the war on terror and still the world is appealing the Indian lobby. He said that the Indian government is openly supporting and financing RSS (Indian terrorist organisation) involved in violence against Muslims in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and other parts of the country yet India is not being included in such list and not being condemned by international rights organisations. He said that “the government must take adequate measures acceptable to the FATF so that the country could be removed from the grey list before its adverse impact.”
Senator Rehman Malik moved a resolution which was passed by the committee appreciating the role and commitment of ECP.
“The Senate Standing Committee on Interior appreciates ECP for taking necessary measures to ensure the elections on time. The committee hopes that the elections will be held fair, smooth and violence-free. There have been some apprehensions about security; therefore the committee resolves that the secretary interior should ensure foolproof arrangements for the voters, candidates, political leaders, polling stations and especially the heads of political parties on elections day,” the resolution read.
While discussing the matters of the Immigration and Passport Department, the committee expressed concerns on how the blacklist is being managed. The committee chairman recommended that in presence of the Exit Control List (ECL), the current blacklist should not be used for criminal cases, instead, it should only pertain to offences related to passports. He said that the blacklist has no legal status and neither anyone should be included in the blacklist on the desire or complaint of someone other than the court order. The committee also suggested changing the name of the list from blacklist to restrictive list and called for the administrative minister to be in-charge for deciding the cases of adding or removing names from the list instead of taking it before the cabinet for every case. Senator Rehman Malik asked the interior ministry to formulate compact rules and criteria for placing anyone’s name on the ECL and blacklist, adding that it is the basic responsibility of concerned authority/department to inform the accused person before placing his name either on ECL or blacklist within a week. He said that it is the right of accused to have prior information before traveling so that one can avail the legal right to appeal. Senator Rehman Malik also directed the Immigration and Passport DG to provide the facility of printing passports for overseas Pakistanis in their respective country as overseas Pakistanis are the backbone of the country’s economy and they should be facilitated maximum. Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) DG was directed to submit a detailed report to the committee about the corruption cases in the Immigration and Passport Department. Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator Chairman Rehman Malik also gave directions that inter-departmental promotion quota may be increased that officers with a good record could be promoted to higher grades i.e. 20 and 21.
The committee was given detailed briefings by South Karachi DIG about pelting on the procession of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and by Islamabad Police DIG about the threat alert on NAB Headquarters and increased security arrangements in its wake. Senator Rehman Malik said that the committee is concerned about escalating threats to the political leadership of the country and ensuring their security is the responsibility of federal and provincial governments. He said that pelleting on the PPP chairman’s rally shows that there were serious security lapses which cannot be ignored in the prevailing situation. He directed the Ministry of Interior to share the security measures and plans with the committee which it has taken for the security of heads of political parties, voters, candidates, polling vicinities and for the full proof protection of those politicians for whom security threat alerts have been issued. The committee expressed dissatisfaction over the Sindh Police report on the incident of pelting on Bilawal’s rally and directed the Sindh Police IG to submit a comprehensive report on the incident in the next meeting wherein a representative of PPP will also be attending the meeting.
The committee also discussed the incident of Cholistan wherein three little sisters aged 6, 8 and 11 were disappeared and found dead in the desert. The parents of the three sisters attended and briefed the meeting about the incident that had happened on June 13 and the committee took serious notice of it. The Punjab Police representative could not brief the committee due to the lack of basic knowledge about the incident and not knowing anything about the death cause reported in the post-mortem. The committee chairman expressed great annoyance on the ignorance of Punjab Police and directed the Punjab IGP to ensure his presence in the next meeting about full knowledge of the incident. The committee expressed sympathies with bereaved parents and ensured them of the committee’s full support. The parents told the committee that local police promptly answered their call for help unlike reported in the media.