LAHORE: Interior Mini­s­ter Ahsan Iqbal said on Thursday that Afghanis­tan’s soil was being used to carry out terrorist attacks in Balo­chistan in a bid to sabotage the China-Pakis­tan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Speaking at the 24th convocation of the University of Engineering and Techno­logy (UET) here, he said India was using Afghan soil for terrorism in Balo­chistan. “We shall enhance the number of forces on border check-posts for the security of the people working on the project,” he said.

Mr Iqbal said the government had evolved a strong counterterrorism strategy to curb extremism. He said investigation into the killing of 15 people in Balochistan’s Buleda tehsil was under way and the government would share its report with the public. “It is true that terrorism has increased in Balochistan from across the border and the government is improving monitoring at the Afgha­nistan border,” he said.

He congratulated the graduates and admired the role of the UET in producing renowned professionals.

Talking to reporters later, Mr Iqbal rejected Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s demand for early elections in the country and said the government would complete its term. He termed the PTI chief’s demand undemocratic.

Asked about the verdict of the Supreme Court against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, he said the party had implemented the decision in letter and spirit without wasting a moment. But, he added, having reservations on it was the right of the party. “Just as the PPP has reservations on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s execution case and courts do not quote it as a reference like some other cases,” he said.

Commenting on the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) sit-in in Islamabad, he said it was “a follow-up of sit-ins started by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri”. He said Khatm-i-Nabuwwat (finality of Prophethood) was the basis of every Muslim’s faith.

He recalled that in 2002 some intelligence agencies took him into custody and forced him to join the PML-Q but he did not change his loyalty.

He said the government had spent billions of rupees on education and provided free laptops to students to enable the country to compete in the digital market. He said the government had started 10,000 megawatt electricity projects over the past four years. The government provided 3G and 4G mobile technology to people in the country, adding that introduction of 5G was not far behind.

Speaking at the convocation, Minister for Higher Education Syed Ali Raza Gillani said students and graduates should hone their skills to contribute to the CPEC. He said the government was focused on empowering women through education and providing them opportunities to bring them into the mainstream.

UET Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Fazal Ahmad Khalid said universities played a vital role in building a nation on scientific lines. He highlighted the output of the UET with important statistics in capacity building, new pedagogical techniques, laboratory and research centres, upgrade of courses, construction, expansion and memorandum of understandings with academic and industrial institutions.

More than 2,233 degrees were conferred on students — 22 PhD, 557 MPhil and MSc, and 1,654 BSc degrees. An honorary degree of doctorate was awarded to Prof Ahsan Iqbal in acknowledgement of his services and contribution for strengthening the university.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2017