ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan took pains on Friday to clarify that the military was only conducting ‘precision strikes’ against militants in the tribal areas, rejecting reports that a full-scale military operation was under way.
“So far the government hasn’t decided to carry out a military operation in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas and when a decision to this effect will be made people will come to know,” he said in reply to a flurry of questions raised by members of the National Assembly.
He said a full-scale military operation needed large-scale movement of troops and before ordering such an action the government would hold consultations at various levels and do it in full public view. “We have to fight this war together.”
Aaisha Gulalai of the PTI, Naeema Kishwar Khan of the JUI-F and Sheikh Rashid Ahmad had asked the minister about the nature of ongoing military strikes in North Waziristan and adjoining areas, since local people had started moving out of the area.
Ms Gulalai, from the tribal area, claimed that 10,000 to 15,000 people had been displaced. Sheikh Rashid said the displaced people should be accommodated in school buildings lying vacant in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“The military is only conducting targeted operation in Fata and the prime minister has issued clear instructions to the military leadership to avoid collateral damage and take care of the ones who are moving out,” the minister said.
He strongly contested the number of displaced people which, according to his information, was only in hundreds.
“On Thursday, I had separate meetings with the KP chief minister and governor with the sole purpose to make necessary arrangements for people reportedly leaving the tribal area.”
He said most of the people moving out were living with their relatives and were relying on government assistance.
Referring to his meeting with the military top brass, the minister told the house that the forces on ground had also prepared a tentative plan to deal with the issue of displaced people.
Chaudhry Nisar said the ministries of interior and states and frontier regions were actively looking into the problem and a special fund would be earmarked for the purpose.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would meet the chief ministers in coming weeks to discuss the National Internal Security Policy and related issues.
COMPENSATION: Replying to a supplementary question, Chaudhry Nisar conceded discrimination among the provinces in compensation paid to families of law-enforcement personnel killed in action.
In Punjab, the heir of a policeman killed on duty got Rs3 million and the amount increased with the rank, while in Khyber Pakhtunhwa the amount was Rs500,000, he said. The families of the victims have to wait for years for the compensation.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, compensation for Frontier Constabulary personnel killed in 2012 is yet to be paid.
Calling for a uniform compensation package for those sacrificing their lives for the country, the minister said the federal government had set up a special Shuhada fund for the purpose.
DASTI’S ALLEGATIONS: Chaudhry Nisar sought time from the speaker to make a statement on accusations of immoral activities hurled by MNA Jamshed Dasti against fellow lawmakers living in the parliamentary lodges. “In the first place, I completely disapprove the way Mr Dasti made the accusations, bringing disrepute to the parliamentarians who live like a family.” He said he had personally investigated from the officials responsible for the security of the lodges and they had denied the allegations.