Terror threat stalks country

Published February 20, 2014
— File photo
— File photo

ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry warned on Wednesday that the threat of terror attacks was looming large over the country and said that infiltration of terrorists and supply of arms from across eastern and western borders were continuing unabated.

In a presentation before the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Interior, Director General of National Crisis Management Cell of the Interior Ministry Tariq Lodhi said Punjab faced threats from the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and other outlawed organisations and Sindh from sub-nationalists, Al Qaeda, TTP and LeJ, ethnic terrorism, targeted killings and crime syndicates.

He said Balochistan was threatened by Al Qaeda, TTP, LeJ and about a dozen Baloch militant groups, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas by TTP, Al Qaeda, LeJ and foreign-sponsored terrorism, Gilgit-Baltistan by TTP and sectarian groups, including LeJ, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir by India-sponsored terrorism.

He said Islamabad had become an ‘extremely dangerous’ city because of the presence of banned outfits and other factors. The capital city was at a high risk. It has sleeper cells of members of banned organisations, including Al Qaeda, TTP and LeJ.

The National Crisis Management Cell described cross-border crime syndicates, presence of ISAF and Nato troops and instability in Afghanistan, US drone strikes in Pakistan’s territory, cross-border terrorism by hostile foreign agencies, covert Indian intelligence elements in Afghanistan and Indian cold war in response to the Kashmir issue as some of the factors aggravating the law and order situation in the country.

The NA committee was informed that 6,788 people, most of them facing serious criminal charges, were on the Exit Control List.

An official said in response to a question that the data had not been shared with any foreign agency and the laid-down procedure was followed for any intelligence-sharing.

Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rehman told the meeting that the national security policy which was yet to be approved focused on proactive and pre-emptive measures, instead of retaliatory approach. He said it provided for a mechanism for instant information-sharing among around two dozen intelligence agencies for a prompt action wherever required.

He said law and order was the responsibility of the provinces and the federation always supported them when required.

Acting Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency Ghalib Bandish informed the committee that about 1,200 sanctioned posts were lying vacant in the FIA.

The agency has been facing shortage of arms and ammunition. It has only 80 sub-machine guns against its requirement of 400 and 35 9mm pistols against the requirement of 500.

The FIA is also facing financial problems. It requires Rs356.863 million for the current financial year but only Rs169.863m has been allocated.

The meeting suddenly became tense when Nabeel Gabol of the MQM said the situation required proclamation of emergency in the country. There was an exchange of hot words when Tehmina Daultana of the PML-N rejected his proposal and criticised MQM chief Altaf Hussain for living in a foreign country.

Mr Gabol hit back and said: “Your leader had also gone to Saudi Arabia after striking a deal.”

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