KOHAT: Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi has hinted at developing an effective mechanism to bar leaders of proscribed organisations from taking part in polls.
“What has been happening in the past will not be allowed to continue,” he said on Thursday while talking to reporters after addressing the closing ceremony of a spring festival at the Kohat garrison.
He was responding to a query about whether a mechanism was being evolved to prevent leaders of banned outfits from taking part in electoral politics and to stop fourth schedulers from travelling for Haj and Umrah.
Fourth schedulers are individuals who are members of proscribed organisations and have been placed on the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
The minister reiterated that the ongoing crackdown against outlawed organisations had not been initiated under any external pressure. He said the government was committed to transforming Pakistan so that nobody could point a finger at it.
“The government has taken over all religious seminaries, ambulances, dispensaries, hospitals and other assets linked to the proscribed organisations. The government has also released funds to run these assets,” he added.
Referring to a report to be submitted by Pakistan to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) next week, he ruled out the possibility of Pakistan’s placement on FATF’s black list.
The minister said in its last report submitted to the FATF, the federal government had pleaded its case in such a professional manner that all member states except India had lauded Pakistan’s efforts, noting a reasonable improvement.
Mr Afridi said in the past, whenever the FATF delegation arrived in the country, Pakistan’s case was weak because all state institutions were sending different vibes. However, this is not the case now, he added.
The minister said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other agencies had taken exemplary measures to curb human trafficking and money laundering. “Airport Security Force, Customs, FIA, Coast Guards, Rangers, FCs and Army have created effective set-ups to curb illegal movement of money, humans and drugs.
“We are erecting fences along borders with our neighbouring countries. Our message to the world is that Pakistan won’t allow its soil to be used against any country. Both prime minister and army chief are monitoring these operations,” he said. He also hoped for early signing of extradition treaties with the UK and Turkey.
‘Peace ambassadors’ of Pakistan
He also described the holding of the spring festival in Kohat as a significant development, as previously the area had been a hot spot for militancy. He pointed out that the event had been attended by over a dozen foreign diplomats.
“Now these diplomats will act as peace ambassadors on behalf of Pakistan telling the world about peace and development taking place in this part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which was previously known as threat to world peace,” said the minister.
He said the path towards peace was not easy and Pakistan had to pay a heavy price. Mr Afridi said thousands of Pakistanis from civil and military backgrounds have laid down their lives to defeat the scourge of terrorism and now the world needs to honour their sacrifices.
“After achieving durable peace, the development process has started. By launching deep institutional reforms and a vibrant visa regime, we have opened Pakistan to the world. Now investors and tourists are welcome and all state institutions are standing ready and united to welcome investors who would enjoy maximum profits in Pakistan. We have rich reserves of oil, gas and minerals. We have a lot to offer to the world. Just come and explore Pakistan,” the minister said.
Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2019