ISLAMABAD: If a hint dropped by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the Senate on Thursday is anything to go by, the newly-appointed head of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Mullah Fazlullah, came to Pakistan lately from Afghanistan as a result of efforts made by the PML-N government to facilitate peace talks with militants.
“How Maulana Fazlullah has come (to Pakistan) from Afghanistan?” the minister said in a meaningful way while recalling the efforts he had made for bringing the militants to the table for talks in light of the decisions of the all-party conference two months ago.
The statement came hours before the formal announcement of Fazlullah’s selection as the new TTP chief.
Although the minister did not provide any specific information, his statement about Fazlullah’s presence in the country indicates that the government was well aware of his whereabouts in Afghanistan as well as the timing of his arrival in the country.
The minister also hinted that the government had sought the assistance of some religious and political personalities in bringing the two sides closer. He said: “There were many important Ulema involved in it. Many influential people were involved in it.”
Responding to the criticism by the opposition and media over the delay in initiation of the peace process, Chaudhry Nisar briefed the opposition-less upper house about the efforts which he had made during the seven weeks since the APC held in Islamabad on Sept 9.
The minister said he was surprised to see some newspaper columns, editorials and statements from politicians claiming that no talks were being held at all with the Taliban. He said those today criticising him for their ‘vested interests’ did not know that it was a bilateral matter, claiming he had made efforts to make the atmosphere conducive for talks after the killing of an army general, attacks on a church in Peshawar, a bus of government employees and the Qissa Khwani bazaar of Peshawar. “Let them write against me every day,” he said, adding that he did not care. He said even the Americans were aware of the talks.
The minister said that bringing the militants to the table was not a child’s play and that “we reached this stage after crossing a number of hurdles”. There were 37 groups within the Taliban who did not agree even with one another, he observed.
Chaudhry Nisar regretted that the PML-N, JI, JUI-F and the PTI were being dubbed as pro-Taliban for supporting the peace process and making efforts to bring the country out of the crisis it had been facing for 13 years.
The minister declared that he did not care as to what was being written against him and that he would continue to work for the betterment of people and peace in the country, stating: “I have to pick up the pieces as a responsible man.”
KARACHI OPERATION: Earlier during the question hour, the interior minister told the house that the operation against criminals in Karachi would be completed in three phases. The first phase was already over, the second was going on and third one would be harshest. He said he could not give the timeframe for completion of the operation, but it would be over in months and not years.
Chaudhry Nisar said that so far 9,000 people had been detained in Karachi. Some of them, he said, had been released while a good number of them were being prosecuted. He claimed that some of the arrested persons were involved in 20 to 25 murder cases.
He said he would visit Karachi on Friday.
The minister said that some grievances of the MQM appeared to be genuine and that he had the reports about six missing persons in Karachi. He said the entire operation was being monitored and he would try to resolve the issue of missing persons.
He said although some of the arrested criminals had shown their affiliation with political parties, no party had contacted the authorities so far.
In reply to a question, Chaudhry Nisar said the recent surge in target killings seemed to be a result of sectarian violence in Karachi, ahead of Muharram. He said the writ of the government had already been restored in the city and all no-go areas would be eliminated.