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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Saturday blamed “external powers and their intelligence agencies” for the latest wave of terrorism that is sweeping the country.

Talking to a group of reporters on Saturday, he said the investigation into recent terrorist attacks had unearthed an organised attempt to disrupt peace in the country.

Operations against militants had broken the terrorists’ back, forcing them to flee the country and establish their headquarters and training centres across the border, he said, echoing the stance adopted by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif a day earlier.

In a press conference held to announce the capture of the suspected mastermind of the Lahore bombing, the chief minister claimed the apprehended terrorist had divulged that his network was operating from within Afghanistan.

Appeals to Afghan refugees to point out ‘black sheep’ in their midst

The interior minister also said that the civil and military leadership, during recent high-level meetings, had decided to firmly deal with this spate of terrorist attacks.

“Those who target innocent people will not be spared, whether they are inside the country or come from across the border,” he remarked, adding that even diplomatic considerations would not impede actions aimed at ensuring national security and peace.

The minister said that when his government came to power in 2013, they successfully overcame a situation where there used to be five to six terrorist attacks every day. This time too, the challenge would be faced with the support of the nation, he said.

He told reporters that all those involved in the recent terrorist attacks in Peshawar and Lahore had been identified along with their facilitators.

It had also been established that Afghan refugees had been used in these incidents, he said.

Chaudhry Nisar noted that Pakistan had been hosting Afghan refugees for 30 years and had looked after them, despite its own problems. “It is now the responsibility of the Afghan refugees to [help] identify the black sheep who are disrupting peace in Pakistan and bringing them a bad name.”

In addition to the arrest of the Lahore attack’s facilitator, the minister said that more arrests were made from Hazro, Taxila and Attock on Friday night, praising the intelligence agencies swift action.

Talking about the Sehwan Sharif bombing, the minister regretted that no significant breakthrough had been made yet, and deplored how certain individuals were using this dastardly attack for ‘political purposes’.

Although he didn’t name anyone, the minister was obviously talking about the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government of Sindh when he said that the statements issued by some leaders of a certain political party during the last 24 hours were “highly regrettable”.

Asking whether the security of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine was a responsibility of the federal government or the provincial government concerned, the minister said he had personally witnessed the inadequate security arrangements at Sehwan Sharif.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2017