ISLAMABAD: Equipped with statistics on the past year's terror incidents across the country, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan hit out at critics of the National Action Plan (NAP) on Thursday saying those criticising the policy "had never read NAP".
During a press conference in the capital, Nisar boasted the gains made through NAP and claimed terror incidents and casualties are the lowest in nine years.
In an apparent remark to growing criticism of NAP in the wake of the recent Charsadda University attack, he said Pakistan is militarily winning the war on militancy but "we are losing the psychological war against terror", he said.
"Whenever there is an attack, a storm begins. We behave exactly how our enemies want by creating an atmosphere of fear. People criticise the government saying no progress has been made."
Nisar laments schools closure
Nisar took issue with the closing of schools in Punjab. "Security can be improved while schools are still on."
"We should give a message of strength and unity and fight against the atmosphere of fear and terror."
"The terrorists are desperate so they are attacking the softest targets. There are hundreds of thousands of schools in Pakistan. Securing each is a difficult job, but it must be done."
The minister said he told the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry that schools should not be closed
"I will request Punjab and other provinces to not shut down schools," he said. "I am saddened by the closure of schools."
"If we close all our educational institutions, hospitals, streets, neighbourhoods and hide ourselves in our houses; this is what the terrorists want."
'Civilian govt in control'
The minister rubbished critcism that NAP is controlled by the military saying, "Operation Zarb-i-Azb started before NAP. It is not a part of NAP."
"One or two things [in the NAP] are informed by the Ministry of Defence and the army. Everything else is from the civilian government."
Nisar said he would brief the media managements next week on the gains of NAP.
"Networks of terrorism have been broken. The terrorists are on the run so they hit the softest targets. Instead of 7-8 attacks every day, they hit one target. They create so much terror that everyone roams fearfully," he said.
"The government policy is very clear — there are no good or bad militants."
He also hit out at the PPP and referring to ex-president Asif Ali Zardari's notorious 'eenth-se-eenth' outburst against the military establishment, Nisar said, "A few political elements have problems elsewhere but they vent out their frustration on NAP."
Following the recent attack on the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda which had claimed 21 lives, Leader of Opposition in the national Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah had pointed the finger at NAP meant to curb terrorism and held the interior minister responsible for the attack.
Shah had accused the federal government of making no significant progress on the NAP and said only 60 out of 3,000 major terrorism cases had been sent to military courts.
In reference to the intelligence that Charsadda terror attack was being controlled from a location in Afghanistan through Afghan cellphone, Nisar said although Afghan SIMs could no longer work on roaming in Pakistan, there were some places in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where their towers can broadcast signals.
"We took this matter up with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and will take this matter up with the Afghan government too," he maintained.
'Misstatements regarding Abdul Aziz'
Nisar, who came under fire last week for 'misleading' the House on Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz, said, "In my absence, there were many misstatements regarding Maulana Abdul Aziz in the Senate. People who want to score political points only want to create confusion."
The minister said he will "request the chairman Senate to broadcast my response and criticism [regarding Abdul Aziz] live."
"What do I have to hide?" he said, vowing he will put everything before the Senate regarding Abdul Aziz.
"I can make a mistake unintentionally but i should not be called a liar."
The interior ministry came under immense pressure to take action against Abdul Aziz after four key legal documents, asserting that the cleric was an absconder, were presented before the upper house by Senator Farhatullah Babar last week.
Babar, who also sought the chair’s permission to move a privilege motion against Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for misleading the house, said Nisar incorrectly stated in Senate that the government did not move against Aziz because of a lack of evidence in the case lodged against him.
'Grievances against media'
Nisar said he had grievances against certain sections of the media which criticised his absence, which was due to his poor health.
"My health worsened as i was working for two days while I was ill," he said. "Any one can fall ill."
He also mentioned cartoons published by some media outlets which depicted him carrying a burden of lies.