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Interior Minister Rehman Mailk. — Photo by AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Wednesday said Punjab government had never requested for putting the name of Malik Ishaq— leader of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)— on Exit Control List (ECL).

Speaking to media representatives, he said Ishaq is involved in 32 criminal cases and added that it seemed that Punjab police were providing protection to him as he was continuing his activities.

Malik Muhammad Ishaq, who is also vice president of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), had been detained for one month after he offered his arrest outside his residence in Rahim Yar Khan on Feb 22.

ASWJ was formerly known as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).

The minister said that provinces have been asked to provide details about banned organisations within three days, adding that he has asked Punjab government to take actions against the LeJ.

Malik said he will prove that LeJ was involved in bomb blasts and target killings in Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and other areas.

“It is proved that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Pakistani Taliban have links with each other and they are trying to destabilise Pakistan through terrorist activities,” he said.

Illegal border crossings

The minister said that no one without legal documents, including a visa or permit would be allowed to cross Pak-Afghan border from March 8.

“Afghanistan did not cooperate to check illegal crossing of the border despite repeated requests from Pakistan. Now we have decided to pursue a strict check to control smuggling and drug trafficking from across the border,” he said.

Rehman Malik said that Pakistan and Iran have agreed to set up four check posts— two each on Pakistani and Iranian side of the Pak-Iran border at Taftan – and added his Iranian counterpart would visit Pakistan soon to finalise modalities in this regard.

He said that duty free trade zones would also be established near the check posts.

Talks with Pakistani Taliban

With regard to dialogue with Pakistani Taliban, Rehman Malik said that Taliban should bring forward reasonable people for the talks. He said backbone of the militant organisation has been broken and they are weakened.

“We will eliminate terrorism from the country at all cost. Chief of Awami National Party (ANP) passed a resolution at All Parties Conference (APC) in Peshawar and offered dialogues to Taliban. We also offered them dialogue on different occasions but these offers were rejected,” he said.

He said, “So today I reiterate and offer them     for dialogue and they (Taliban) can move forward in an appropriate manner by appointing reasonable persons for talks.” He said as per information Ehsanullah Ehsan is not a genuine representative of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

“Foreign hand”

To a question on US defence secretary nominee's statement that India was financing problems for Pakistan from Afghanistan, Malik said he had asked President Hamid Karzai and Indian authorities to clear their positions on the matter.

The minister said Pakistan was a friend of Afghanistan which has always supported and raised voice at all fora in favour of Afghanistan.

“I ask Afghanistan to clear its position that it is not involved in any terrorist activity. We have done the best on our part. I hope proper clarification would be issued, otherwise I would demand apology from both India and Afghanistan,” he added.

When asked to comment on release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, he said she was illegally arrested and taken to United States and added efforts were underway to get her released from the US prison.

The interior minister said Dr Shakeel Afridi had acted as a traitor and that was why he was convicted as per law of the land.

Deportation of former Ogra chief

Referring to deportation of former Ogra chairman Tauqir Sadiq from United Arab Emirates (UAE), Malik said teams of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) are already in UAE as the accused has been traced out and would be brought back to Pakistan soon.

BB murder investigation

Replying to another question, the minister said on its part present government had completed all investigations about Benazir Bhutto murder case and now the matter was in the court which would soon convict those who were responsible.

“I am thankful and appreciate the court which is hearing the case on daily basis. Most of the evidences have already been produced as on the basis of substantiated evidences the criminals would be taken to task,” he said.

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